Rhythm of life from war-torn Congo

Kinono No. 1, Snape Proms, August 6Kinono No. 1 emerged from war-torn Congo, the band's trance-like rhythms inspired by war-scarred bushmen seeking refuge in the sprawling slums of Kinshasa.

Kinono No. 1, Snape Proms, August 6

Kinono No. 1 emerged from war-torn Congo, the band's trance-like rhythms inspired by war-scarred bushmen seeking refuge in the sprawling slums of Kinshasa.

Then they came to the Snape Maltings.

The contrast could not have been greater, which was the joy of this blistering performance on the 6th day of the Snape Proms.


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The concert hall was packed with the Boden catalogue's finest, all of us trying to simulate the juddering hips of vocalist and bells player Vincent Visi as he pulsated alongside singer Pauline Mbuka Nsiala.

Dancing children and adults packed the space between the floor-seated proms goers and the stage.

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In an attempt to recreate the back streets of Kinshasa the seven-piece band was framed by two trademark horn-shaped amps and a backdrop of jungle foliage. Timeless voices combined with samba-style whistles and the rat-a-tat of handmade tools on scrap metal.

Kinono No. 1 take the rhythms their Congolese ancestors once played on ivory horns and have adapted them to the likembé (corr) - a handheld thumb piano popular in Congo (then Zaire) of the 70s and 80s when foreign music was banned.

On stage three electric likembé (corr) formed the pinging beat, interlaced with voices, dancing and percussion instruments fashioned out of salvage from a junkyard.

In order to be heard in the urban din former truck driver Mawung Mingiendi, now 71, who founded the band 35 years ago, used the magnates of car alternators to crank up the sound.

His attempts to be heard were successful both inside his home country and abroad. The band scooped the Best Newcomer gong at the BBC World Music Awards in 2006, after their 2005 album Congotronics brought them international acclaim.

Beck and Bjorg are among Konono No. 1's fans and, by the look of the Snape audience, pogo-ing and jiving along to the African beat, they'll have notched up a lot more.

Georgina Wroe

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