Illustration: ©Valérie Etterlen
FANTASY . STRANGE . LEGEND
12+ years old
Duration: 45 / 60 min
Here, there are stories under the ground. Noises. Echoes. Voices. Listen carefully and you will hear them. They ride along the slopes. They ride the morning mists. They linger after the sun has fallen behind the hills.
LaSauvage was written by Steve Toase and set to music by Eric Holm. This soundwalk is inspired by the legend of La Femme Sauvage, from which the village where it is located takes its name: a mysterious woman living in the surrounding woods, sometimes a healer, sometimes a witch.
The narrative was formed from several stories, which underwent a series of transformation processes inspired by those used in the extraction and working of iron. The industrial past of the region is thus at the heart of the texts, merging with the legends. The music gives rise to an intriguing atmosphere, transcribing the soul of the place and its hidden stories.
LaSauvage was created as part of the In the field project, for Esch2022, European Capital of Culture.
Influenced by Jeff Noon’s approach in Cobralingus, the texts have been distorted, reworked and reconstructed to create something new. By merging the legend of La Femme Sauvage with the valley’s industrial past, the latter becomes central to the story and the text is completely transformed.
The trail gives an important place to borders, which are at the heart of the folklore surrounding the legend of La Femme Sauvage: borders between our world and the underworld, between human and animal, between civilisation and wild life, between the damned and the saved. Some boundaries are already present in local myths, such as that of the Cron Stone, under which La Femme Sauvage lay, allowing herself to be drawn into the underworld. Others are generated by the random process used for writing: this creates a tension where the writer does not have full control of the final form of the stories and the structure of the text, constantly standing at the border between readability and chaos.
The music, for its part, lets us perceive chords ‘in suspense’, which never really end, creating a tension, an uncertainty as to the emotions transmitted. The chords are played in sequence but also alone, each one almost overflowing on the next, each one constituting a transition towards a new state of perception. All of this occurs in parallel with a shimmering, shifting ambience in the background, made up of sounds mostly recorded on site. These are shaped to evoke a sense of life, to show the soul of the place, but also the stories hidden behind the rocks and trees, under the houses, buried in the mines and in the earth itself.
Sound design is not intended to serve as background noises for storytelling, but to complement, contrast, and, in some places, conflict with stories. By walking from one place to another in Lasauvage, the sound environments offered to the listener bring out specific aspects of the places and interweave them with the writing. This approach has extracted elements that fully connect the listener to words and earth, sometimes suggesting hidden things just beyond the bounds of immediate perception and consciousness. Listened to through headphones, the sounds create an incredibly close experience of the place, while connecting the listener to a hidden character that is not easily visible on the surface of Lasauvage.
Steve Toase is an author. Born in the north of England, he currently lives in Munich, Germany. In his disconcerting works of fiction, trees can hitchhike and bears play chess in sunny squares. He regularly writes for the monthly Fortean Times and the webzine Folklore Thursday. His fiction has been published in numerous magazines, as well as in The Best Horror of The Year anthology. From 2014 he worked with Becky Cherriman and Imove on the Haunt project, about the homeless in the town of Harrogate and the disturbing contrast between their situation and the town’s economic prosperity. His first collection of short stories, To Drown In Dark Water, was published in April 2021 by Undertow Publications
Eric Holm is an American sound artist and composer. His work is tied to specific locations: he uses field recordings, inspired by various places, to create immersive soundscapes. A diver for 20 years, his compositions are based on the many dimensions of the sea and his personal relationship with it. His first LP, Andøya (2014), was a field project made from recordings of communication pylons that connected listening stations on a remote island in the Norwegian Arctic. It was followed by Barotrauma (2016), made from recordings near Oslo. His latest work, Surface Variations (2020), a reflection on Debussy’s Sea, was made during a dive on the south coast of England. Eric has performed throughout Europe and the UK. His work is published on Subtext.
With the support of Esch2022, European Capital of Culture, as well as the French Ministry of Culture, the DRAC Grand Est, the Région Grand Est, the Centre National de la Musique, the Collectivité Européenne d’Alsace, the Département Meurthe-et-Moselle, the Ville d’Esch-sur-Alzette, the Ville et Eurométropole de Strasbourg, LISER (Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research), the Musica Festival and Puzzle Thionville.
In partnership with Residhome Luxembourg and the Cottage Luxembourg.