03 May 2007

...the company you keep.

We love a good collaboration, as longtime SoundRoots readers know. But when a "world music" group is approached to play with big-name Western stars, interesting things happen.

On the one hand, there's Tinariwen. The nomadic desert rockers recently announced that they will open for the Rolling Stones on August 18 at Slane Castle in Ireland. It's a move that makes sense to me: The rebel attitude of these soldiers-turned-musicians captures something that the Rolling Stones once had, but arguably lost en route to becoming super-rich superstars. And it's certainly a good move in terms of getting this "world music" group in front of thousands of guitar-rock fans who may well latch onto the Malians' great music, and perhaps further explore the sounds of "African blues" musicians such as Ali Farka Toure and Malouma.<span class=

Another edgy African group had different ideas. Congolese DIY group Konono No. 1 have also found some crossover appeal as they've toured outside of Africa. But they've repeatedly rebuffed offers collaborate with other bands, according to a spinner.com story. Except...drum roll please...Bjork. Yes, the Icelandic experimentalist called the Congolese likemba group to play on a track from her new album Volta, which hits stores May 8.

The LA Times has an interesting article about Konono No. 1, including this assessment of their music by eMusic editor-in-chief
Michael Azerrad:

The first time I heard Konono N°1, I thought it sounded like Jimi Hendrix covering Talking Heads' 'I Zimbra. It was mesmerizing and electric in a low-tech, 'Blade Runner' kind of way, like Steve Reich through a fuzzbox. But suffice it to say, this is not melodic music that lends itself to three-minute radio edits, so the appeal is somewhat limited…. As brilliant as it is, it's just not easy listening.
Ah, but if it were easy, 'twouldn't be so rewarding!

Listen to Congotronics


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