Anyone who has spent time in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will know that it’s a city that bustles with an industrious and infectious energy. Maybe it was living there that inspired Mawangu Mingiedi to take that energy and apply it like jump leads to the Bazombo trance music he had grown up with near the Angolan border. In doing so, he created a band called Konono No.1 and revolutionised a musical tradition that stretched back hundreds of years.
The impact Konono No.1 have had on Bazombo music has been literally electrifying. When Mingiedi found himself unable to find the sound he was looking for using traditional instruments he took it upon himself to build the first ever electric likembe. The likembe is a kind of handheld piano played with the thumbs, but amplification using magnets salvaged from old cars transformed it. When the band plays the likembe on stage it looks like they’re operating oversized remote controls. It sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before.