Somnambule - Writing About Music

FatCat Split Series ~ 18

Konono No.1 are from Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic Of Congo. The group are made up of three likembe (thumb pianos) players, an unspecified number of percussionists, three singers, three dancers and a sound system. The music they produce is identifiably African in its loose-limbed intensity, but this very passion is magnified by the homemade amplification they use to push their sound out. Due to the paucity of money and available materials the sound resulting from this electrification is gloriously noisy and messy, and the group exploit the these characteristics to maximum effect. Their grooves are so infectious and deliriously overdriven that they make the likes of Fela Kuti sound positively polite.

The reverse of the disc barely contains three tracks by New Zealand noisy experimentalists The Dead C. It quickly becomes clear why FatCat paired the two groups: both share a taste for the sort of intense amplification that’s like vivid rusting that threatens to eat through the song structures it simultaneously conveys. This is alternately blasted, spectral stuff; the two guitarists create a sound redolent of steelyards collapsing in hell while the drummer drives dogged beats through like rescue teams in search of survivors. Corruscating, but cathartic.
Colin Buttimer
March 2005
Published by Milkfactory