Monday, July 19, 2010

Amazing day of African music in New York: Konono No. 1

Despite the other big names on the bill, it seemed the crowd in Prospect Park was waiting all day to see Kinshasa group Konono No. 1, since a swell of people appeared close to the stage around the time the sun started to go down over the Bandshell and the group appeared on stage. Despite Konono being over thirty years old, they had all the buzz and jittery eagerness surrounding them on Saturday that a crowd usually reserves for new, up and coming groups of 20-somethings. That’s because this music—distinct for its three electric likembĂ©, or thumb pianos—is appealing on so many levels. Their rough, DIY aesthetic is arguably the dominant mode du jour in independent music (just take a gander at a recent Pitchfork review of a Wavves or Ariel Pink album). Also, they are just damn cool with their cowboy hats, stone-faced execution of ten-minute songs, and giant horn-shaped amplifier made of car parts. Finally, this music has been out of reach for far too long and has only reached a large number of American ears in the last few years, so it has the unique combination of sounding brand new and comfortably worn in. And it’s about time this music has made it to our shores, because it’s exotic and entrancing in a way that exemplifies the best of African culture.

Also, here’s a review we did of a Konono show in 2005.

Posted by Owen.
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