TUESDAY

First things first: Konono No. 1 has weird-ass gear. The decades-old Congolese act not only foregrounds the thumb-played likembe—a cross between toy piano and vibraphone—it also cranks up via homemade amplification, some of which, the band claims, is constructed from used-car parts. Its rhythm section, too, is fond of junkyard detritus, crafting makeshift kits from both real drums and whatever resonates when smacked with a stick: pots, pans, and, yes, more car parts. The D.I.Y.-ness of this set-up, not to mention the music’s Nuggets-esque fuzz, led to a split EP with New Zealand experimental rock act Dead C as well as an earlier album on Terp, an indie run by a member of Dutch punk group the Ex. The new full-length, Congotronics, however, has broader appeal than the band’s scrappy equipment might imply. Structurally at least, a typical Congotronics track—say, opener “Lufuala Ndonga” or the almost identical “Ungudi Wele Wele”—works like four-on-the-floor techno: Konono No. 1’s trio of likembe players kick off with a circular, uptempo riff and then, after a loop or two, the three-, sometimes five-man rhythm section joins in, thwhacking and clanking away. As is the case with much funk music, Congotronics’ trance-aspiring cuts could hardly be described as “songwriterly”; the emphasis here is on the cog-in-groove appeal. That the vocals happen in a language other than English may, for the less-adventurous, be as much a stumbling block as the distortion-producing megaphones that Konono No. 1 uses to boost its voices. Chances are, though, only a noise-freak or obscurantist will notice much beyond Konono No. 1’s generous grooves. Konono No. 1 performs at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Free. (202) 467-4600. (Brent Burton)