Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Konono No.1: Live At Couleur Cafe

Pauline Harris reviews "Konono No.1"'s Live At Couleur Cafe.

The musical group Konono No.1 released their "Live At Couleur Cafe" cd a Crammed Discs production in 2007. The music is from the DRC
(Democratic Republic of the Congo) where the group originates from and is a mix of traditional rhythms and melodies using modern instruments or adaptations.

Combining the electric "Likembe" (thumb piano) with various percussive instruments and adding vocal chants and songs produces their unique yet familiar sound of music that can be described as trance like or hypnotic. With instruments created from discarded parts and salvaged machinery these musicians were able to transfer traditional genres into the urban scene proving necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

These celebrated musicians, recently of world renown, have a firmly grounded audience with the Bazongo aficionados in the DRC and have also gained acceptance internationally with their brand of music.

That being said this recent release is a disappointment. It could be that their performance doesn't transfer well in the "live" format seeing that theirs' is not a studio sound per se. The dancing and crowd participation are a magic missing in the "Live" version.

The CD has 8 tracks. Intro is inviting and prepares the listener for a promised smorgasbord of rhythms and sounds. Thereafter the other songs are almost indistinguishable. The tracks all sound alike; "Kule Kule" offers a slight change and if you did not check your monitor you may think it is the second song.

For those who do not speak the language there maybe a loss in translation which would otherwise keep you from making distinctions. But that has never stopped people from around the world from enjoying music from another culture or language. Taken as one long set the album is a success. One cannot be in doubt of where much of the modern sounds from Congo/Zaire got their inspiration.

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