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Konono No 1 set to release new album

Konono N°1 Meets Batida is Konono's first release since 2010.

Konono No 1 are set to release their first album in six years. The release has the Congolese electronic masters join forces with Angolan-born, Portuguese raised producer Batida aka Pedro Coquenão, and marks their first full length since 2010's Assume Crash Position.

Currently at the helm of the outfit is Augustin Mawangu – the son of Konono founder, the late Mingiedi Mawangu. Based in Kinshasa, DRC, but with origins in the Bakongo ethnic group based between the Congo and Angola, the group are renowned for their use of the electrified thumb piano alongside DIY electronic instruments. In 2004 Crammed Discs put out the full length Congotronics, leading to a collection of other releases as well as Crammed's Congotronics series.

The suffix No 1 is applied in order to distinguish this group from offshoots formed by students of Mawangu. As Nick Richardson explains in his interview with the group for The Wire 314, ”One of the first things Mingiedi tells me is “Tout d’abord, je suis maître” (“First and foremost, I’m a teacher”); Konono has functioned as a school for budding musicians. Youngsters who wanted to learn likembe, the African thumb piano at the heart of Konono’s sound, would come to the virtuoso Mingiedi, who would find them a place in the group where they could hone their skills.

“After they left,” confirms Mingiedi, “they started their own groups, which they also called Konono. I never said that my group was number one, but when they started theirs they called themselves number two, number three, and so on. We took the name Konono No 1 by implication, even though we’d never used it. But yes, the first group to be called Konono was my group.”

Konono No 1 Meets Batida was recorded in Batida's studio in Lisbon alongside guitarist Papa Juju, vocalist Selma Uamusse, and slam poet MC AF Diaphra. The album was jointly produced by the producer of Crammed Discs' Congotronics series, Vincent Kenis, and Coquenão himself.

Listen to "Nlele Kalusimbiko" featuring AF Diaphra on vocals and Papa Juju on guitar:

Konono N°1 Meets Batida is due for release in April 2016 on Crammed Discs.

Subscribers to The Wire can read Nick Richardson's cover feature over at Exact Editions.