EdFringe 2022 Review: Stevensongs

France produces some of the best electronic music – one simply has to think of the buoyant disco of Cerrone, the enigmatic whispers of Charlotte Gainsbourg, or the moody soundscapes of SebastiAn. This French electronic pedigree combines forces with the rich lyricism of Scottish wordsmith Robert Louis Stevenson in a fresh piece from electronic duo Fergessen and director Nora Granovsky in Stevensongs. Taking residency in the French Institute in Scotland’s Fringe hub, Stevensongs is stirring fusion of captivating lyricism, transporting electronic soundscapes, and an enigmatic atmosphere.

Stevensongs beautifully shines new light on Stevenson’s work – many of us are aware of Treasure Island, Kidnapped or The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – yet this experience delves into many of his less obvious and commercial works. Taking Stevenson’s poems and letters, Stevensongs sets these to striking visuals from Pierre Nouvel showcasing tapestries including shifting patterns, waves and sunrises.

Utilising both English and French language translations of Stevenson’s work, Fergessen pair the writer’s texts to electronic soundscapes ranging from the buoyant to the brooding. Bringing in a wide variety of instrumentation to the fold, the duo truly compel with acoustic guitars, electric guitars, keyboards, drumpads and of course, striking vocals which convey the emotional subtext of Stevenson’s writing.

Fergessen draw on Stevenson’s texts from A Child’s Garden of VersesSongs of TravelBalladsUnderwoods as well as Michel Lebris’s French edition of The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson to his family and friends. The result is a wide variety of Stevenson’s work covered with Stevensongs subsequently feeling like a truly immersive way to introduce oneself to Stevenson’s slightly lesser known works. There’s an added gravitas and enigmatic spirit in the use of French, with the poignancy of Stevenson’s work not confined to simply one language.

Stevensongs is a striking fusions of bold electronic soundscapes, emotive vocals, richly poetic lyricism and magnetic visuals. This should not be missed.

Stevensongs plays at Edinburgh Fringe’s hub in the French Institute of Scotland. Get tickets here.

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