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Konono N°1: Assume Crash Position


Konono No. 1

Album: Assume Crash Position
Label: Crammed Disc

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It’s been six years since the world met Konono N°1, the Congolese thumb-piano posse that uses jury-rigged junkyard salvage to amplify its intensely rhythmic grooves. The ensemble has since collaborated with Björk and Herbie Hancock, played for Matt Groening at All Tomorrow’s Parties, and been covered by The Ex, all events that could have a profound effect on a band. Or not. Assume Crash Position finds the members of Konono only subtly building upon the sound pioneered on 2004’s Congotronics, with guest appearances not from their international cadre of high-profile fans, but from their friends in Kinshasa. On the opener, “Wumbanzanga,” guitar-play and electric basslines expand the palate ever so slightly, allowing the song to escape the distortion that comes with running likembes through car parts-as-amplifiers. The effect is ethereal and ebullient, and it’s felt elsewhere on the album as well—on the airy “Mama Na Bana” and “Makembe,” which weaves street chatter into the mix. The fuller sound also makes space for a couple of most-likely unintentional cultural crossovers, with “Fula Fula” stuttering into full-on four-four dance throb, and “Konono Wa Wa Wa” adding what sounds like wah-wah to all that tonal plunking. But even amid so many 10-minute epics, Konono also finds time to pare it down. The closer, “Nakobala Lisusu Te,” features only voice and a single unamplified likembe, offering a glimpse into the soul of the band, which thankfully has been resistant to change.