Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Congotronics 2 [Crammed Discs, 2006]
Even the mbaqanga originators, who took as their conscious project the transformation of village tunes into city songs, tried to make pop music. Konono No 1 became the sole stars of Congotronics 1 just trying to make themselves heard. Though happy to sell their musical wares on the international market in the end, they weren't assimilationists, and it was their tribal loyalties as much as their avant-naive sonics that captivated alt-rock ideologues who regard any hint of slick or catchy as an indicator of spiritual contagion. Never big on lo-fi (or bush drum circles either), I missed the tune factor in Konono, the muscle factor too. So on this multi-artist comp-with-DVD it was the combined efforts of Masanka Sankayi and the Kasai Allstars that softened me up to the buzzy, beaty sound of crudely electrified thumb pianos deteriorating midair. This being anthropology, pretty much, a sampler is the ideal introduction. A-