Spin - "'Um Nzonzing' ups the ante with a wonderfully chintzy synth bass line, bubbling digital beats, and a clangorous metallic sample ricocheting against guest vocalist Sacerdot's grunts and exclamations."
Personnel: Pauline Mbuka Nsiala (vocals, percussion); Menga Waku, Augustin Makuntima Mawangu (vocals); Pedro Coquenao (synthesizer, drum machine, unknown instrument); Visi Vincent (drums); Ndofusu Mbiyavanga (tamtam, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Vincent Kenis.
Recording information: Batida Garage, Lisbon.
Konono No. 1 Meets Batida is the first full-scale collaborative album by the world-renowned Congolese percussion ensemble, as well as the long-running group's first recording since the 2015 death of Mingiedi Mawangu, who founded the group back in the '60s. Ever since the 2004 release of Konono's debut studio album, Congotronics, the collective has earned widespread admiration from alternative, experimental, and electronic music communities due to their D.I.Y. sound incorporating self-made amplification techniques and instruments built from salvaged junkyard parts. Based in Lisbon, Portugal, dance producer Batida (Pedro Coquenao) originally hails from Angola, adjacent to Konono's home country, and his tracks heavily sample the region's music. The collaborative album seems like a logical evolution of Konono's traditional yet technology-savvy sound, sounding perfectly in line with their own discography as well as with the Lisbon dance underground and labels such as Principe Discos and Enchufada. Batida adds up-front, ticking electronic beats to several of the tracks, as well as filtering effects common to any DJ's mixing board, but he generally lets the ensemble's spirited polyrhythms and vocal harmonies carry themselves. However, there are a few moments, such as "Kinsumba," where Batida works his studio wizardry, cutting up Konono's percussion and vocals into samples and rearranging them as on an extended 12" dance mix. In addition to the presence of contemporary electronics, the album seems a bit more tightly focused on vocals than previous Konono releases. The release includes guest appearances from Lisbon-based Mozambican singer Selma Uamusse and MC/poet A.F. Diaphra, whose fluid rhymes effortlessly blend with the heavy, hypnotic rhythms. On "Bom Dia," Konono actually put away their electrified percussion instruments; their a cappella vocals and handclaps are only joined by a sparse techno beat from Batida. Even without his contribution, the song is every bit as exuberant and propulsive as their usual compositions, even if it's not quite as loud and fleshed-out. On the 11-minute "Nzonzing Familia," Batida's electronic drums are so well integrated into the mix that it's hard to tell who's contributing what. Konono No. 1 Meets Batida is a resoundingly successful collaboration, and any cut from it would sound absolutely killer on a dancefloor. ~ Paul Simpson