Konono Nº1 is a musical group from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The band’s line-up includes three electric likembés (bass, medium and treble), equipped with hand-made microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts, and plugged into amplifiers. There’s also a rhythm section which uses traditional as well as makeshift percussion (pans, pots and car parts), three singers, three dancers and a peculiar sound system including megaphones dating from the colonial period, which they call “lance-voix” (‘voice-throwers’).
The members of Konono N°1 come from an area which sits right across the border between Congo and Angola. Their repertoire draws largely on Bazombo trance music, to which they’ve had to incorporate the originally-unwanted distorsions of their sound system.
The group was formed in 1966 by Mingiedi Mawangu, a likembé player and truck driver. In November 1978, the ensemble called Orchestre Tout Puissant Likembe Konono Nº1 (All-Powerful Likembe Orchestra Konono Nº1) recorded one track, “Mungua-Muanga,” for the compilation album Zaire: Musiques Urbaines a Kinshasa.
The first time Konono Nº1 played outside of Africa was in 2003, when they toured the Netherlands with Dutch band The Ex. Since then the group has achieved some renown in North America and Europe, and has toured both places. The group collaborated with artists such Deerhoof, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Björk, and Herbie Hancock.
The band earned a BBC Award for World Music in 2006.
Mingiedi Mawangu, founding member of Konono Nº1, died on 15 April 2015, aged 85.
Ungudi Wele Wele is taken from their 2004 album Congotronics, released by Crammed Discs.