Konono N˚1/ the Dead C. — Split Series #18 (2005, Fat Cat Records)
One of the most uncanny split records encountered by Marginal Brevity. Thank you Fat Cat Records! Congotronics progenitors, Konono N˚1, play some of the most exciting and inspired contemporary music around. Making use of three homemade electric likembés (a close cousin to the thumb piano), Konono have a full-on, good time, shake your ass, and bob your head thing going on. Recordings are gritty and no-nonsense (naturally goes well with Dead C.) and fully compliment the music. The melody for “Lufuala Ndonga” is Ohrwurm material for days. The Dead C. have the unenviable task of being on the reverse side. The Kiwis do their thing, which seldom disappoints anybody at Marginal HQ. Yet these recordings are a bit underwhelming for the C. The trio, for better or worse, sound far more rockin’ than usual. Bits of “0.19166666666666665” veer into 1990s rock territory. What’s next a rendition of stairway to go with the T-Rex cover on Eusa Kills? Jokes aside, it’s not a bad set of jams from Bruce, Michael, and Robbie, but without the room to let it breathe afforded by the space of a full-length LP, it feels a bit strange and stiff. The big take away for this record is that it has to been viewed as a single document. By providing a space for seemingly disparate artists, the foundations of an artistic solidarity are formed, you broaden your horizons, and we get an armchair dialogue on. A split release which straddles being novel and stellar, but is worthy of several spins on the table, regardless.