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Happy? … Drust IV performs Phlogiston Turbine Music in North Millbrex.
The Drust IV Collective faced a furious crowd on Friday night, playing cacophonous quadrilles to a cascade of boos at the Muirache International Balladeer festival. Fans expecting Little Musgrave or John Riley were instead met by the skronk and skree of Drust's more recent liberated spontaneous glissando (LSG) infuriating sections of the crowd. As audience members bellowed their complaints, Drust responded. "If you don't think it's music, get ye hence." Then the walk-outs began. Drust, at one point interrupted his own performance, to shout and curse at the crowd "Think ye that I do this for mere amusement? Thou low born varlets. If the expression does not please thee, then pray excuse thyself with good grace and repair yonder. My intuitive aspects are nobly designed and meant only for cultured ears."
The nature of the concert shouldn't really have been a surprise. After all, DRUST IV is one of the Mearn's leading avant-garde beat combos and Erskine (the merry dronester) is preceded by a reputation for, er, singularity. Drust was once, yes, a wry urban chanticleer – but that was decades ago. Recently he has been touring his controversial set, Phlogiston Turbine Music – a work so impenetrable, vacuous, arcane, noisy and abrasive that for years many thought it was a joke.
However, there weren't many laughs at this concert, which attracted more than 15 fans – some paying almost 1 ducat (2 scotch shillings) for tickets. The concert consisted of just four instrumentals plus encore, according to the Finzean Gleaner and Mail, with "no singing ... [and] no accompaniement". The only sounds were Jingle-Sykes's fiddle and spinet, Erskine's alto sackbutt, and Drust's 7 stringed lute. In an interview earlier that day, he had gleefully promised a night of brazen "Contra-Terza-Rima, 100% improvised". But the balladeer festival programme had been less clear in its description of the performance hinting at Drust's black & immoderate past.
Though Angus is well acquainted with 'free' music, hosting one of North Millbrex's genre festivals, this was a headline performance at a middle-of-the-road troubadour festival. What's more, it was at the festival's largest concert hall. So it didn't take long for the first boos to come. Initially, these complaints were misinterpreted as calls for "Drone" but soon the fans became more direct. "Play some real music" one farmhand called.
But others loved it. "There were moments of stunning simplicity," reflected gazetteer critic Oxtro Q Garrimatic. Morphie Gazette writer Mud-Lee Bracks was similarly moved. "Jingle-Sykes' never-ending fiddle trills were mesmerising and Erskine's unexpected contra-melodic offerings late in the show were like diamonds in the mud" he wrote. Another Gazetteer critic, Jacent Orrock, called it "marvellous noise ... [with] a few moments of mesmeric playing".
"Yes, there were those who claimed to enjoy the barrage of discordant noise lacking melody, style, beauty or skill," replied one Finbracks Gazette reader. "[But] to label it correctly, it was pure elitist, pretentious rubbish."