|Songes having a nice little lie down|
|Token Easter concession of hot cross bun, plus mini-tsunduko of Ian McEwans|
In one of the dreams, The Monochrome Set (my recent travels with whom were evidently still fresh in my mind!) were supposed to be playing a late night gig outside a ruined castle on top of a mountain. The craggy topography was positively Transylvanian in appearance, belying the Tewkesbury postcode on the band's itinerary sheet. The 'get in' - or 'get up', rather, in view of the vertiginous terrain - was hard going, on slippery ground and along unlit paths. I am not sure the band ever made it to the summit - I was onto the next dream by then anyway, about a defective glide rail in the cupboard under my cooker.
|Val in the garden of the Grand Hotel Cosmopolis|
I have waited till this post to mention it, but along with Naja, there is one other scent that is inextricably bound up with meeting Val and Chris in Augsburg. For on the Sunday I wore a sample of Songes edt - the conscious creation of happy associations with perfumes being a thing I increasingly do, rather than noticing after the fact that random fragrance X (not to be confused with the online retailer of the same name ;) ) happens to remind you of good time Y. In my book, deliberately orchestrating scent memories is just a logical extension of outfit planning, and it worked like a charm with Songes. So much so that on my return to England I felt I had to own it, notwithstanding the substantial size of my existing perfume collection!
Notes: frangipani, tiare, jasmine, incense, vanilla, copahu balm, pepper, ylang-ylang, vetiver, sandalwood, amber, styrax
I have been wearing Songes a lot in the last two weeks. During a recent visit, my brother asked me what my favourite perfume was, which I obviously batted off as a preposterous question to put to a diehard fumehead. ;) Yet the more thought I have given it since, the more I have come round to the possibility of only having TWO perfumes, and of Songes being one of them...! For while there is amber and styrax in the base, which one could consider 'winter perfume' notes, the composition overall sits squarely in the 'sultry tropical floral' category, which is not exactly the genre for which one reaches on a dreich and drizzling day in February. That said, I would not restrict Songes to high summer and exotic holiday locations, and I don't say that just because we don't really have a summer here and I don't go anywhere remotely exotic. Okay, not the beachy, Bounty bar kind of exotic, say. Some might say a residential container park in Stuttgart is a bit 'outside the box' as destinations go. Or 'inside the box', even. Sorry, I digress...but yes, I reckon Songes also works nicely in spring: like a cuckoo pint it is buttressed by a curling sheath of greenery - a compelling blend of vetiver and what I can best describe as 'a jasmine note in tuberose's clothing', most notably in the opening. For I detect a dewy, faintly medicinal** otherworldliness that reminds me of Carnal Flower, which I also see as having wider seasonal currency than its name might suggest.
**(or more exactly, a scent that is somewhere between grass, Germolene, menthol, and bubblegum, and I really do mean that in the best possible way)
|Oops, we are tired again!|
As Songes wears on, the narcotic and sensual bouquet of frangipani, tiare and ylang-ylang starts to bloom on a pneumatic bed of vanilla spiked with just enough pepper and incense to keep things from ever drifting into apocalyptic Loulou territory. Rather, this is a sort of 'sexed - and slightly weirded - up' La Chasse aux Papillons crossed with Ormonde Jayne Frangipani, featuring echoes of Amaranthine's creamily indolic milk pudding. There is an air of innocence about Songes, but if you were to tear away the soft focus veil like a tangle of so much diaphanous clothing, you would eventually uncover its carnal core. You might well have got fed up with the tangle wrangling long before, mind! If Songes were a film it would perhaps be a more grown up version of Bilitis, that stylish and moody 'coming of age' flick, of which my memory, like the cinematography, is hazy, but as a geeky and thoroughly unracy teenager I do remember it as an aspirationally risque cult classic. Even the theme tune is seductively soporific, in a slightly annoying synthesised Vangelis kind of a way! ;)
|The most respectable still I could find! Source: Abe Books|
Actually, park Bilitis with its youthful lesbian overtones - seductively soporific is really where it's at in a nutshell. Songes could be the signature scent of the Lotos-Eaters (aka the gloriously named 'lotophagi' or 'lotophages') as they munched on their lotus fruits and flowers, causing them to 'sleep in peaceful apathy'. Here is an extract from the eponymous poem by Tennyson:
"Eating the Lotos day by day,
To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
And tender curving lines of creamy spray;
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
To muse and brood and live again in memory"
And that brings me back to another aspect of my association with Songes: if Bilitis is its gawky and not quite suitable film equivalent, 'On My Balcony' from the band's Platinum Coils album, would be Songes in a song to a 't' - or an 's'! The track takes as its theme singer Bid's stay in hospital, recovering from surgery following a brain aneurysm:
"Through the perfume of sweet velvet sleep
I glide into the afternoon"
As I mention in this early tour post, when quizzed about the lyric, Bid explained that his choice of the word 'perfume' was quite arbitrary, and he probably just liked the way the word sounded. Even so, the woozy cadence of the lines nicely evokes a state of dreamy torpor, scented or otherwise. There is about a 30 second clip here, which gives you an idea of the track's languid charm - not unlike early Genesis indeed.
And here are a couple of reviews, which serve to confirm me in my linkage of Songes to song!
"The tempo slows in 'On My Balcony', a ballad that feels like drifting down a tributary of oblivion." - From a High Horse
"One is lifted up to the gentle heights of On My Balcony, where, weightless, surrounded by a golden luminous haze, the concerns of the world float far below." - God is in the TV
And as it happens, at that eclectic asylum seekers' hostel-cum-hotel that was our base in Augsburg, my room had its own balcony! As did most of them to be fair, haha. Okay, and not strictly my own balcony - more like my own section of a communal balcony that ran the whole width of the building. But the decor of all the rooms - which were individually designed by an assortment of avant-garde artists - was very Lotos-Eaterish, come to think of it, in the sense of minimalist and surreal, and conducive to a state of peaceful apathy! Good job I managed to stir myself in time to meet Val on the Saturday night - you could easily sleep your stay away, which would be rather a waste of a visit to such a picturesque spot, though you would feel jolly rested at the end of it.
I will close this free association 'spacy review oddity' with some photos of the other rooms I find most Songes-like at the Grand Hotel Cosmopolis, starting with the one I was meant to have, Grande Dame. (All photos sourced from the hotel website.)
Things start to get more diaphanous with Innen / Aussen:
My own room, 4 null 5, also gives good gauze:
Before taking a fluffy turn with Zauberwald (note also fluffy bedknob):
And here is Maskerade des Lebens - complete with balcony and trippy mural:
So there you have it - Songes edt, the scent of an asylum seekers hostel / hotel, a fabulous fumehead meet up, a hospital in Tooting, a dodgy 70s film, and those legendary lolling sybarites, the Lotos-Eaters:
"To muse and brood and live again in memory"
Are you asleep yet...? ;)