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[Literary / Tradition / Art] Charles Fréger and Teho Teardo – Wilder Mann, Book and CD


The transformation of man into beast is a central aspect of traditional pagan rituals that are centuries old and which celebrate the seasonal cycle, fertility, life and death.

Each year, throughout Europe, from Scotland to Bulgaria, from Finland to Italy, from Portugal to Greece via France, Switzerland and Germany, people literally put themselves into the skin of the ‘savage’, in masquerades that stretch back centuries. By becoming a bear, a goat, a stag or a wild boar, a man of straw, a devil or a monster with jaws of steel, these people celebrate the cycle of life and of the seasons. Their costumes, made of animal skins or of plants, and decorated with bones, encircled with bells, and capped with horns or antlers, amaze us with their extraordinary diversity and prodigious beauty.

Charles Fréger’s most recent works cycle led him to eighteen European countries in search of the mythological figure of the wild man: Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Germany, Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Switzerland, Finland and Romania. The transformation of human to beast is a central aspect in pagan rituals passed down over the centuries that celebrate the turn of the seasons, fertility, life and death – some still alive today in carnival or Advent traditions. The costumes often represent the devil, billy-goats, wild boars or the Grim Reaper; they utilize masks, horns, bells, animal materials such as fur and bones, and plant materials such as straw and pine twigs.

Charles Fréger (b. 1975, Bourges , France) is one of the most important representatives of young French photography. He devotes his work almost exclusively to portraiture, especially the study of uniformed and costumed collectives, and in particular the shift of their members’ identities from independent individual to conforming part of the community. Fréger is a co-founder of the international artist group POC (Piece of Cake). Charles Fréger is recognised as one of Europe’s leading young photographers. Based in Rouen, France, his work has been devoted almost exclusively to portraiture. He has published many previous books including Légionnaires Portraits photographiques et uniformes and Empire.

Charles Fréger in National Geographic and New York Times this week. Articles and some images posted here.

Music for Wilder Mann

Teho Teardo - Music for Wilder Mann cover_album_widget

It’s been a while since his last album, after many suc­ces­sful sound­track works it’s time for a new re­cord, not con­nec­ted to the movie world but still close to the vi­sual media. On this new pro­ject Teho esta­blish an unu­sual re­la­tion with the in­cre­di­ble pho­to­gra­phic book by Char­les Fré­ger: Wil­der Mann, The Image Of The Sa­va­ge. This album car­ries a pro­found­ly mo­ving fee­ling mi­xing strings, gui­tars and elec­tro­nics, poi­gnan­cy is the most evi­dent fee­ling here. This music era­ses the space bet­ween our safe tech­no­lo­gi­cal li­fe­sty­le and the mon­sters that live in ter­ri­to­ries as far as the eye can see. Sa­va­ges in­he­ri­ted from a pagan tra­di­tion that quic­kly find their way into our own fee­lings.

Fan­ta­stic mu­si­cians like The Ba­la­ne­scu Quar­tetErik Fried­lan­der (Ma­sa­da/John Zorn), Julia Kent (An­to­ny and the John­sons, Ra­spu­ti­na), Mar­ti­na Ber­to­ni played the strings on this album. Their con­tri­bu­tion hel­ped buil­ding me­lo­dic cells out of layers of at­mo­sphe­ric dro­nes. Te­ho’s uni­que style, dif­fi­cult to ca­te­go­ri­ze, brings us a real­ly dark sound whose com­ple­xi­ty di­sclo­ses se­ve­ral mi­nu­scu­le ele­men­ts that keep chan­ging wi­thin a re­pe­ti­ti­ve struc­tu­re, like if re­pe­ti­tion were the only pos­si­ble way for a chan­ge.

In­spi­red from Wil­der Mann: The Image Of The Sa­va­ge, the great pho­to­gra­phic book by Char­les Fré­ger.  The tran­sfor­ma­tion of man to beast is a cen­tral aspect of tra­di­tio­nal pagan ri­tuals that are cen­tu­ries old and which ce­le­bra­te the sea­so­nal cycle, fer­ti­li­ty, life and death. Each year, th­rou­ghout Eu­ro­pe, from Sco­tland to Bul­ga­ria, from Fin­land to Italy, from Por­tu­gal to Gree­ce via Fran­ce, Swi­tzer­land and Ger­ma­ny, peo­ple li­te­ral­ly put them­sel­ves into the skin of the ‘sa­va­ge’, in ma­sque­ra­des that stret­ch back cen­tu­ries.

By be­co­ming a bear, a goat, a stag or a wild boar, a man of straw, a devil or a mon­ster with jaws of steel, these peo­ple ce­le­bra­te the cycle of life and of the sea­sons. Their co­stu­mes, made of animal skins or of plan­ts, and de­co­ra­ted with bones, en­cir­cled with bells, and cap­ped with horns or an­tlers, amaze us with their ex­traor­di­na­ry di­ver­si­ty and pro­di­gious beau­ty. Work on this pro­ject took photographer Char­les Fre­ger to eighteen Eu­ro­pean countries in search of the my­tho­lo­gi­cal fi­gu­re of the Wild Man: Au­stria, Italy, Hun­ga­ry, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Poland, Por­tu­gal, Ger­ma­ny, Gree­ce, Ma­ce­do­nia, Bul­ga­ria, Czech Re­pu­blic, Swi­tzer­land, Croa­tia, Fin­land, Ro­ma­nia and the UK.

Writ­ten, re­cor­ded and mixed by Teho Tear­do at the Ba­se­ment Re­cor­dings in Roma.

Plea­se note: if you buy the vinyl here you’ll re­cei­ve a free do­wn­load of hi qua­li­ty mp3s.

At­ten­zio­ne: se ac­qui­sta­te qui il vi­ni­le ri­ce­ve­re­te un link per sca­ri­ca­re gra­tui­ta­men­te l’al­bum in ver­sio­ne mp3 ad alta qua­li­tà.

Musicians:  Teho Tear­do – gui­tars, bass, au­to­harp, piano, rho­des, dul­ci­mer, har­mo­nium, bells, organ, vi­bra­pho­ne, pro­gram­ming, elec­tro­nics

The Ba­la­ne­scu Quar­tet:
Ale­xan­der Ba­la­ne­scu – vio­lin
James Shen­ton – vio­lin
Katie Wil­kin­son – viola
Nick Hol­land – cello


Mar­ti­na Ber­to­ni – cello
Erik Fried­lan­der – cello
Julia Kent – cello

Music in­spi­red from Wil­der Mann, a book by the ama­zing fren­ch pho­to­gra­pher Char­les Fré­ger

“I was going on an ex­cur­sion wi­thin tri­bal Eu­ro­pe, the polar op­po­si­te of our ima­ges of mo­dern ci­vi­li­sa­tions. I was en­te­ring into a ter­ri­to­ry of land­sca­pes as far as the eye can see. Wil­der Mann was its ar­che­ty­pal hero, half man half beast, a hairy mon­ster, a mul­ti-fa­ce­ted devil, a blood­thir­sty or soft teddy bear, a fer­ti­le ca­pri­ne or a sca­pe­goat wild boar.

I had en­vi­sio­ned an or­ga­nic wild man, hid­den be­hind mud, grea­se, char­coal, the sculp­ted wood of his hor­ned mask, co­ve­red in lea­ves or dead ani­mals, wea­ring his bells noi­si­ly. I had al­rea­dy fan­ta­si­sed that he was like an ani­mal be­lon­ging to a pack of crou­ching bi­peds: the es­sen­tial model of a zoo­mor­phic fi­gu­re, whose ru­di­men­ta­ry ap­pea­ran­ce and ri­tua­li­stic at­ti­re would clas­si­fy him as be­lon­ging to a form of uni­ver­sal nu­di­ty”. Char­les Fré­ger


1. at­to­ni­ta
2 wil­der mann
3 wake up the bear
4 dead tree hug­ger
5 the rap­tu­re in­sti­tu­te
6 tran­sfi­gu­ra­tion of a bear
7 a guide for small joys
8 ultra you

CD: Teho Teardo