I like Switzerland. I go there quite often for work. Why, I even have an expired 2010 vignette on my car, which permitted me to make unlimited use of the country's scenic and densely betunnelled motorway network last year. I also like Andy Tauer, who is THE perfumer everyone associates with Switzerland. Following a tip off from Wordbird, I have visited the Aladdin's Cave of a little bookshop run by his friend in the Spiegelgasse in Zurich. It famously inspired the creation of Le Maroc pour Elle, and cheek by jowl with the books and art cards, the full range of Tauer scents is displayed in the doorway, bizarrely suspended on pieces of string.
Now I have never met the man himself, but there are quite a few of us out in the blogosphere with his handwritten compliments slips, which we have squirrelled away with other fragrance keepsakes, or - in my own case - stuck up on my office pinboard next to the business cards of a couple of other olfactory benefactors. This perfumer is not only very generous with his prize draws - I won a set of samples during the Advent series of 2008 - but he does his own mail outs. Yes, on the basis of these little notes and his blog, Andy Tauer comes across as friendly and approachable. He hikes, he cooks, he is like one of us! Well, except for the hiking, the cooking and the famous and talented nose part. Speaking for myself, anyway. And if I ever were to meet him, I could speak to him in German! Though not his native Swiss German - goodness me, no.
So given the fact that I have always warmed to Andy Tauer as a person, it has been a source of regret to me over the past three years of this hobby that I haven't had a very good "strike rate" with his perfumes, by which I mean I have only liked a small proportion of the total line. Well, pretty much only L'Air du Désert Marocain up to this point, which continues to exert a visceral pull with its haunting blend of rock rose, bone dry cedar and dusty spices, warmed by a soft amber base. The image conjured up by this scent is perfectly summed up by its creator:
'Imagine finding peace in a room, lying on the bed, exhausted from the heat of the day, with the window open, letting the cool air in which still is very dry and filled with the scents from the near desert and overlayed with the spicy scents of the streets below.'
Notes: Coriander, Petitgrain (Bitter orange), Lemon, Bergamot, Jasmin, Cistus, Bourbon, Geranium, Cedarwood, Vetiver, Vanille, Patchouli and Ambergris
L'Air du Désert Marocain is one of the most affecting perfumes I have ever smelt, which I wouldn't say of all the fragrances I am very drawn to or find easy to wear. I should perhaps add that I only love L'Air du Désert Marocain (henceforth LADDM for short) when it has been on for an hour or so, as it is a bit intense and raspy to start with. Which brings me on to the reason why I may have problems appreciating most of the other scents in the range, namely the Tauer "house accord" aka "Tauerade". This term, coined by Marina of Perfumesmellingthings in her review of Tauer's Orris, is the subject of a recent post by Josephine of Notes from Josephine, in which she wrestles with her nose's existential angst in relation to the Tauer line.
Marina reads this accord as a "sweetly-ambery, spicy-herbal, slightly leathery, woody SOMETHING", so no wonder she wanted to come up with a snappier name for it(!); Josephine, meanwhile, detects cough syrup. For myself, I do get a medicinal aspect, also a fuzzy, almost wire wool consistency. It was particularly noticeable in Incense Rosé, Une Rose Chyprée and Lonestar Memories, though there was a lot else going on in that last one, from lighter fluid to bacon, "fuelling" its oddity.
I persisted in this view of Tauers - accepting that LADDM would forever be the one scent from this particular stable on which I could happily ride off into the sunset - until I began to hear good things about the new release, Carillon pour un Ange. I heard it had ylang-ylang and lily of the valley, two favourite notes of mine, though the latter can be tricky and descend into soapy toiletry territory if you are not careful. I also heard that this scent wasn't like other Tauers in terms of the whole medicinal Brillo pad vibe. And though my hasty sniff of a tester nozzle in (the) Scent Bar wasn't too promising, I am three skin trials in now and enjoying the fragrance very much indeed.
For starters, Carillon pour un Ange has an unexpected luminosity for a Tauer - a radiant, almost irradiated quality. Bury it 200 foot underground and its bright heart would still beat, and its bells peal. It has the same intense and bright quality as Ajne Printemps or SIP Magazine Street or DelRae Début, which may partly be to do with the natural ingredients used, for it is mostly in scents with a high proportion of natural materials that I have experienced this "High Definition" phenomenon. The heady hint of lilac, the sensual oomph of jasmine and the tangy clang of ylang-ylang(!) help magnify this impression, aided and abetted by some miscellaneous greenery - none of it bitter like galbanum to my nose - but rather a bright, sherberty linden greenness (which Printemps and Début share, come to think of it, while the DelRae also has ylang-ylang).
Now, having said that I don't detect Tauerade, with its telltale wire woolliness, I DO detect metal all the same, at least in the opening. This may well be intentional, given that the name of the scent refers to a "stationary set of chromatically tuned bells in a tower, usually played from a keyboard" OR "a composition written or arranged for these bells". My first impression of Carillon pour un Ange (or CpuA for short - not to be confused with anything from the Periodic Table of Elements). was of a glade of lilies glimpsed through a wire fence.
Has anyone ever made a peephole theatre out of a shoe box? And if so, do you remember that deep sense of perspective due to the arrangement of different fixtures and fittings at staggered intervals along the box's length? Well, that is how I could best describe the sense of olfactory perspective I get with the accords in CpuA.
The metallic quality hangs around for a while in the foreground, and grounds the scent nicely, stopping it from coming over all Diorissimo. Now don't get me wrong - there is a place for that more feminine, "capering-on-hilltops-in-flouncy-petticoats"-style of springtime scent, though not on my skin particularly. But with CpuA, there's an edge, a metal-strip-in-a banknote bite to it. I may conceivably be chomping on the wire fence initially, as I survey the green dell beyond. Stranger things have been known. I am also reminded a little of the sensation of smelling Nahema, which was like sucking on powdered iron girders, but there the iron note was diffuse and powdery, whereas here the metal is whole and glinting - like sunbeams glancing off the bells in the tower. This is not a gilded lily, but a lily in an iron fist. The lily equivalent of "steel magnolias", if you will. : - )
Notes: lilac, rose, ylang-ylang, green lily of the valley accord, jasmine, leather, ambergris, moss and woods.
Now I see no mention of ferrous material in the note listing, so I am guessing that the metallic impression I get is coming from some combination of moss, leather and woods. Either that, or I am imagining it completely, like the phantom ylang-ylang I detect in Ajne Calypso. And as time goes on, the metal bite disappears, and the radiant piquancy is muted slightly by a musky-woody-leathery trail. It is as though the sun were veiled by a wisp of cloud, behind which it continues to burn brightly.
So there is a threefold learning from this latest scent trial:
1. I like anything Bloody Frida sends me
2. There are more Tauers out there to put a spring in my step and make my heart leap...
3. I like my lilies to be not so much giddy and girly as galvanised.
Yes, Andy Tauer has really "rung the changes" with this one...and I am very happy to have found it.
Photo of Easter card with angel from flickriver, photo of hotel in Marrakesh from concierge.com, photo of Carillon pour un Ange from ry7.ru, photo of brooch from collectibles-articles.com, photo of theatre in a box from papergoods.com, photo of angel from fast-autos-net, photo of galvanising process from bellespics.eu.