Congotronics vs Rockers

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Congotronics vs Rockers

Gone are the days when world music was synonymous with slick, overproduced records by Peter Gabriel and Bill Laswell. The efforts of labels like Crammed Discs, Soundway Records and Sublime Frequencies have gained hipster approval for some unlikely figures from around the globe, be it Tuareg desert rock, South American cumbia or the distorted pop-blasts of Syrian singer Omar Souleyman. One of the strangest success stories has been Konono Nº1, a street band from the Democratic Republic of Congo who use thumb pianos and homemade amplification to make music that wouldn't sound out of place in a laptop electronica set. Aided by Belgian producer Vincent Kenis, the band scored a hit with their 2004 album Congotronics, paving the way for other Congolese groups including Kasai Allstars and Staff Benda Bilili.

Musical ideas ripple in an interesting fashion, and at the tale end of last year Crammed released Tradi-Mods vs Rockers, a 2CD album in which indie and electronica artists, including Animal Collective, Andrew Bird and Shackleton, remixed tracks by Congolese groups. Now they're taking the show on the road, pairing Konono Nº1 and Kasai Allstars with a selection of indie musicians, plus Kenis himself on bass. Juana Molina and Skeletons' Matt Mehlan will be appearing at the Tokyo date, though you'll have to go to Fuji Rock Festival for the full supergroup experience, which also ropes in members of Deerhoof and Wildbirds & Peacedrums.