Bazombo trance music, rendered on the electrified likembé (thumb piano), kitchen-sink percussion and a tottering stack of amplifiers and speakers is truly Kinshasa’s answer to Phil Spector’s wall of sound.
It’s been a busy few years since the 2004 release of Congotronics, the album that has propelled Papa Mingiedi Mawangu and Konono No 1 to world attention. Then people were entranced by the sheer improbability of its bricolage: Konono’s sound was a joyful, vigorous sprouting coming from the debris of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.
These vigorous elements are also present on Assume Crash Position, but second time around it’s better to focus on the band’s continuity with the musical landscape. Tracks such as ‘Mama Na Bana’ and ‘Wumbanzanga’ zip along, with beats, voices, guitars all in rhythm. But on the latter there are shades of an Ok Jazz feeling, a return not just to the roots of Bas Congo – the area from which most members of Konono hail – but a homage to the great Congolese guitarist Franco.
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