Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange: Galvanising The Lily

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, photo of Carillon pour un Ange from, photo of brooch from, photo of theatre in a box from, photo of angel from fast-autos-net, photo of galvanising process from


Anonymous said...

Lovely and interesting review, thank you Vanessa! I got a lot more green and a lot less metal out of Carillon. I love your metal images though! :) This is one of my favorite Tauers too.

Vanessa said...

Hi olfactoriastravels,

Thanks for your comment! I wouldn't be surprised if I was the only person getting metal out of Carillon pour un Ange - it may turn out to be connected with the natural materials aspect.

But as ever, what is fun about this whole reviewing malarkey is the variety of all our takes on the same scent - slightly different shifts in nasal perspective, as it were. I think everyone is united in loving this one though.

Ines said...

When I was little, I and my sister used to gather lilies of the valley with our mother (that's her favorite flower). CpuA smells to me exactly like that - the way lilies of the valley (couldn't they find a shorter name for them?!) when you gather them in the woods.

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,


My mother loved LOTV too (that's my best shot at an abbreviation), and carried them in her bridal bouquet. The greenness in this scent is very lovely, certainly.

Katy Josephine said...

Hi Vanessa - thanks for the 'Tauerade' mention! Honestly, I've lost faith in trying more Tauers, which is a shame. Perhaps I will return to them later, when my nose memory has faded. I agree with you that LADDM is the best of the far.

ScentScelf said...

Ah, you captured it. The tricky relationship a perfume fan can have with a perfumer who is a wonderful person, pursuing their endeavor in a way one is completely simpatico with...but whose product does not mesh.

I have a bigger hit/miss rate with Andy's work (of the ones I've tried): Une Rose Chypree, YES; Une Rose Vermeille, no; Un Reverie au Jardin, YES, Lonestar Memories, still deciding; Maroc Pour Elle, a strange place between YES and no. Vetiver Dance, usually yes, sometimes oops. The "yes"es are all caps because when the Tauers work for me, they work most happily.

Oh, and Orris...I have a small amount of the much vaunted Orris...which is ALL THAT. (Can one sigh and shout at the same time? An iris lover can...)

I look forward to trying Un Carillon pour Ange. I watched the story of its development with interest as it played out on AT's blog (weird how casually/comfortably I was going to say "Andy";

As for peephole theaters: No, I have not. And I am really, really wondering why. So one of my first projects for spring may just have to be the very thing. How can the child who wanted to make dioramas for a living never have heard of such a thing? Blimey. American schools.

ScentScelf said...

BTW, there is a certain kind of zeitgeist that occurs with the term "Tauerade." It actually has sprung up before; you can find Marina using it in PST almost at the same time it appears in Perfume Posse, and again in Nathan Branch's blog...I think I am forgetting someone...but that was a few years past. It is time for it to hit the rounds again. Which makes sense, because it rings so easily and true. :)

Marina said...

'Bury it 200 foot underground and its bright heart would still beat, and its bells peal.' Yep! That's exactly right! :) For better or for worse :)

lovethescents said...

I'm so glad you ended up liking it! Are you sure you don't detect any celery there? That's the greenery that I found :-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Josephine,

Yes, do give Carillon pour un Ange a spin - if I can put my past mistrials behind me, I am confident you can too!

Vanessa said...

Hi ScentScelf,

I haven't tried the Orris one, but all the others you mentioned got a thumbs down from me, sadly, ditto Orange Star. Though I need to give the latter another go, because it wasn't Tauerade that was the problem with it as I recall, more *overly orangeness*, which also bothers me in that newish release from Atelier Cologne, Orange Sanguine. Definitely need to test the Tauer again at more leisure, and on skin.

You really must craft yourself a peephole theatre at your earliest convenience, for they are a lot of fun. A similar effect to those old slide viewfinders, if you had them growing up - like binoculars, but you slipped a slide in some kind of slot. Gosh, it is hard to remember the exact mechanism, but the perspective was just like the shoebox!

Vanessa said...

Hi ScentScelf,

Thanks for the heads up on the chronology of Tauerade and apologies to Marina for misattributing its original coinage. Josephine's post homes in specifically on this accord, so it is still pertinent here.

I think I have found the very first reference to Tauerade by Marina from 2006! Will amend my wording accordingly.

Vanessa said...

Hi Marina,

Have followed the windy Tauerade trail back to you! : - )

And yes, Carillon pour un Ange is radioactive, I swear! As is that Calypso, I'll wager...

Vanessa said...

Hi lovethescents,

No celery so far, but I will keep you posted on subsequent trials!

ScentScelf said...

Well, shoot; the Tauer line-up significantly alters the Venn diagram of our perfume likes. Maybe we can just put 'em all under one polarizing hat, as it were.

I totally remember the viewfinders; had a couple over the years, with a full collection of "reels." There was something fascinating about the dinosaur stories in particular...stegosaurus remaining one of my favorites, despite it being questioned these days as having actually existed.

Vanessa said...

Yes, our Venn diagram is looking a little lopsided at the moment, but I have a truffle hunt rematch scheduled with Dans Tes Bras, so we'll see if that one can help redress our blobby imbalance.

Forgot to say, I made a peepshow aquarium in a shoebox too. Lots of coloured cellophane drapery added to its watery mystique.

Angela Cox said...

Wonderful review , I find Lily of the Valley can smell very metallic. I got a vintage Houbigant Muget this week that is warm and rounded and not at all metallic. I'd need Octavian's nose but he'll be using it !!

Bellatrix said...

I wish there are more perfumers like Andy (as a person). So thoughtful :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Angela,

That's interesting that you get this metal thing too with LOTV. And your vintage Houbigant sounds the business!

Vanessa said...

Hi Bellatrix,

Or indeed people generally like him... : - ) A better role model for an all-round nice guy and good egg couldn't be found. And I say this with confidence without having met him!

Carol said...

Hello my dear - I am just reading this post today (where have I been lately). Love the definition of Tauerade! And now that you enjoy the things I send you, I'm now scared to send you anything else in case I ruin my streak! xox

Vanessa said...

Hi Bloody Frida,

Haha - I quite understand the reasons for your apprehension! That was some haul last time. I can't wait to use the wool either. : - )