For this new album, the legendary Congolese band has joined forces with acclaimed Angolan/Portuguese artist Batida aka Pedro Coquenão. Along with producer Vincent Kenis, they convened in Batida's garage-cum-studio in Lisbon with a series of collaborators and friends of Batida's, reflecting the city's vibrant, cosmopolitan music life: guitarist Papa Juju (the leader of Lisbon's foremost Afro-fusion band Terrakota), vocalist Selma Uamusse (one of the best young African singers currently residing in Portugal) and MC AF Diaphra, a distinguished slam poet and an artist/producer in his own right.
As we all know by now, Konono N°1 are based in Kinshasa, DRC, but originate from the Bakongo ethnic group, which lives in a region straddling the border between the Congo and Angola. Hence certain similarities between Konono's rhythms and some types of Angolan music from which Batida has drawn inspiration for his albums and shows. This encounter was obviously bound to happen… but was nevertheless quite an adventure: blending the worlds of electronics beats and organic grooves was a challenge to which the parties have risen beautifully to create this exciting, unheard-of new strain of Afro-electro music.
The album was jointly produced by Vincent Kenis and Pedro Coquenão, and is due for release in April 2016.
Konono N°1: with the unbelievable sound of their electrified thumb pianos, and their wild rhythm section, Congolese band Konono N°1 have become the darlings of Western indie rock & electronic music audiences ever since the release of their first Congotronics album in 2004. They played at major rock festivals, were invited to record by Bjørk and Herbie Hancock, were awarded a Grammy, and were paid tribute by some of the best young indie musicians in the US and Europe, from CocoRosie and Animal Collective to Beck. Konono N°1 was founded back in the 1960s by Mingiedi Mawangu, who sadly passed away last year. His son Augustin has been leading the band for the last few years.
Batida ("easier to get your tongue around than Pedro Coquenão”), is a radio, documentary and music producer, Angolan-born and Lisbon-raised. This alias was inspired by the DIY spirit of pirate compilations which could be found on the streets of Luanda. Released by UK label Soundway Records, his two albums garnered a lot of praise from the media (“This could be the record that changes the African electronic music of the 21st century”, wrote Songlines magazine), as well as from artists such as Stromae, who invited Batida to open for him on his tour, and Damon Albarn, who invited him to take part in the Africa Express project and got him to remix one of his tracks.
Vincent Kenis is the originator and producer of Crammed's Congotronics series, devoted to exciting electro/traditional musical hybrids from the Congo. He "rediscovered" Konono N°1 in the early 2000s and produced all their albums so far. He's also produced albums by Kasai Allstars, Staff Benda Bilili, Zap Mama, Taraf de Haïdouks, Tartit and others, and co-produced Zazou Bikaye's ground-breaking Noir et Blanc album in 1983. Originally a musician, he was a member of seminal Crammed bands Aksak Maboul and The Honeymoon Killers, and has collaborated with Congolese artists such as OK Jazz's Franco Luambo Makiadi, Papa Wemba & more.