Last Sunday afternoon, alien sounds drifted over a rusty 15-foot-tall corrugated metal wall in a remote corner of Bywater: A high-pitched, droning hum straight out of a 1950s sci-fi film. A mish-mash of percussion. Muted and mutated trumpet blasts. A distant train whistle.

Hidden behind the wall was the surreal source of the sounds: The Music Box Village, a fantasy shantytown in which the structures themselves, built with salvaged materials, double as improvised instruments.

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Advocate photo by Keith Spera -- The Music Box Village, alongside the Industrial Canal in New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood.

After two incarnations in temporary locations, the Music Box Village has settled into a permanent home on a scruffy, leafy lot at 4557 North Rampart St., tucked alongside the Industrial Canal and the approach to the St. Claude Avenue Bridge.

It is, arguably, the ultimate manifestation of the outsider arts community that has flourished in Bywater since Hurricane Katrina. Representing disciplines from metalworking to music, it is creativity writ large, Willy Wonka’s factory fashioned from a junkyard’s contents with a jug band’s aesthetic.

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music box staff

Contributed photo -- The Music Box Village's creative team includes, clockwise from top left, Taylor Shepherd, Delaney Martin, Jay Pennington and, in front, Tarriona "Tank" Ball.

Most Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., the Village is open to the public. For a small admission fee, adults and children can explore the musical architecture and contribute to the cacophony.

But the site also hosts formal concerts featuring musicians who ordinarily perform on more conventional instruments. On Friday, the Music Box presents two performances with local R&B/jazz/funk/spoken word ensemble Tank & the Bangas, augmented by bounce star Big Freedia.

Show times are at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $8 for kids ages 5 to 18. Parking is extremely limited, so attendees are encouraged to bike or use cabs or Uber. (The Music Box is not open in the afternoons on show days.)

Other upcoming shows include south Louisiana contemporary Cajun band the Lost Bayou Ramblers with Rickie Lee Jones, Langhorne Slim and the Pogues’ Spider Stacy on Dec. 2-3.

On Dec. 9-10, the Eastern European-flavored New York punk band Gogol Bordello will preside over “Western Dada, a celebration of 100 years of Dada.”

With these rosters, the Music Box illustrates how New Orleans continues to inspire and attract artists. Jones and Stacy launched their global careers elsewhere, but have recently settled in New Orleans. And the members of Gogol Bordello, with their proclivity for madcap brass music and public celebration, have long appreciated the Big Easy’s attitude.

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Advocate photo by Keith Spera -- The Music Box Village, alongside the Industrial Canal in New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood.

That attitude is very much reflected by the Music Box Village.

It is among the more ambitious undertakings of the non-profit arts organization New Orleans Airlift. Founded in 2008 by musician/manager Jay Pennington and artist Delaney Martin, the Airlift’s mission involves “collaborating to inspire wonder, connect communities and foster opportunities through arts education and the creation of experimental public artworks.”

The Music Box is indeed an “experimental public artwork.” There’s nothing else like it in this, or possibly any other, town.

The most “conventional” of the structures is the treehouse-like perch outfitted with well-worn drums, plus several percussive pots. A nearby stand with upended plastic buckets is in keeping with the approach of amateur drummers who perform on French Quarter streets for tips.

But that is where any connection to convention ends.

Consider the water tower. Users stand below it on a metal grate, which rests atop a large metal pan. As water trickles down around you, you push yellow buttons to make tones that sound like train or tugboat whistles.

On other structures, the floorboards function as oversize keyboard keys. Stepping on them triggers electronically generated tones.

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Advocate photo by Keith Spera -- The inside of a large, bell-shaped lace chime at the Music Box Village, alongside the Industrial Canal in New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood.

A fragile, cone-like apparatus consisting of old lace tablecloths and/or drapes is suspended from a tree on a thick rope. The inside is strung with dozens of tiny bells, bottles, keys and other trinkets. Standing inside and tugging the rope causes the whole thing to tinkle.

Pulling on levers at another elaborately welded stand causes trumpet-like sounds to erupt from an old, hot-wired trumpet.

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Advocate photo by Keith Spera -- The Music Box Village, alongside the Industrial Canal in New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood.

Yanking on cords dangling beneath a box-like structure outfitted with whirling fans, coiled tubing and motors and pulleys emits other-worldly, droning hums. Car rims are re-purposed as the bases of big wind chimes.

Salvaged burglar bars serve as railings above rusty metal stairs. Elsewhere, you'll find the guts of an old piano, pick-ups from an electric guitar, a display of doorbells, a faded scrap of sheet music from a player piano.

To follow the high metal wall from the ticket booth out front to the entrance round back is to transition into a playground unlike any other. The other-worldly quality is only enhanced after dark.

The original incarnation of the Music Box was built on Piety Street in 2011, using the remains of a collapsed Creole cottage. In addition to Pennington and Martin, its guiding creative forces included Taylor Shepherd and Ninth Ward musician/inventor Quintron, who also conducted early performances there. Thousands of visitors experienced it.

Four years later, it was reborn as the Music Box Roving Village in City Park during the 2015 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Members of Americana band Wilco were featured at one memorable performance.

The new, permanent site is the former home of a metal fabrication shop – appropriate, as much welding went into the creation of the structures and the surrounding post-industrial wall.

The pairing of Tank & the Bangas and Big Freedia for this Friday’s concert is especially appropriate, as both acts have a history with the Music Box. Bangas singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball has been especially supportive.

And Pennington, as his alter ego Rusty Lazer, collaborated with Big Freedia early in her career to help introduce the bounce star to audiences beyond New Orleans.

“For us, engaging with artists over long spans of time fulfills our larger goal of earning trust and support from the furthest reaches of the rich tapestry of New Orleans' artistic community,” Pennington said.

“As artists, both Tank and Freedia bring an energetic, adventurous and spontaneous improvisational spirit to the city, and will definitely bring the same dynamic, in a concentrated form, to the Music Box Village. We're thrilled to have them back.”

Follow Keith Spera on Twitter, @KeithSpera.

Keith Spera writes about music, culture and his kids.