I’d never heard of Llyn Foulkes until I did a ‘net search for one man bands. Forget those buskers with a bass drum on their back, a mouth organ on a wire hovering above their mouths as they strum their guitars. As you can see above, Llyn’s is a massive contraption which barely fits through doors. It’s a sculpture of scavenged and invented instruments whose crowning glory is a clump of old-fashioned car and bicycle horns.
To play his original compositions, Foulkes squeezes the horns’ black rubber bulbs, triggers a drum with one foot, strums an electric bass with the other and picks up a pair of mallets to tap out a melody on a swirl of xylophone keys and cowbells. Sometimes he beats an empty plastic water jug. Oh, and he sings too. The results are both cacophonous and catchy, evoking the sideshow carny stylings of Tom Waits and the sound-effect-laden novelty songs of Foulkes’ first idol, the 1940s musical satirist Spike Jones.
Llyn, now 81, is a totally original singer-songwriter and musician and he plays his Machine sitting down. I’ve posted a video of a performance he gave a couple of years ago here.
Having got that sorted, I had to check out his art, and if you want to see it too, you’ll find a selection on his website, here.