One Thousand Scents

Friday, April 04, 2008

Heart of Darkness: Andy Tauer Incense Rosé


On Monday I got a sample of Andy Tauer's new scent, Incense Rosé, in the mail. All the way from Switzerland! From Herr Tauer himself! (I won a contest on his website.)

Trying to describe my first impressions of it to Jim, I called it "interesting", which is when he said, "Oh, interesting. Like when an ugly person has a nice personality." A pretty good point, but not quite fair, because Incense Rosé isn't ugly, to say the least. It just isn't exactly beautiful, either, and that is in no way a criticism.

After a startling blast of clementine, the titular rose comes sidling up, but it is accompanied by dark notes: it isn't a fresh red rose, but more like dried rose petals in a wooden box, or something more mysterious still. There is a veil over everything, a sort of crepuscular darkness: the bright clementine and the rose persist through the middle of the scent, but they're overlaid by smoke and wood and darker things, castoreum and patchouli and myrrh. There's nothing of churchy incense in it the way there is in some incense scents (such as Etro's Messe de Minuit, which is meant to evoke a Gothic cathedral); it's a very outdoorsy sort of incense, as if you were holding a ceremony in the middle of a cedar grove at twilight. (To my nose, there is a lot of gorgeous cedar; alongside the frankincense, it dominates the middle of the scent.)

I like it enough that I wish it were more me. I've enjoyed wearing Incense Rosé for the last week, but I think the problem is that incense scents just don't demand my adoration the way, say, chypres do. I've never focused on really incense-heavy scents: they've just never grabbed me by the throat. I did love Gap Om (now long out of production), and I own Winter Delice, Nu, Body Kouros, and a few other what you might call incense fragrances, all of which I liked well enough, but none of them would make my top-ten list, if I could actually narrow down my favourites that tightly. I've tried Passage d'Enfer by L'Artisan Parfumeur, Donna Karan Chaos, and Messe de Minuit, but I don't know them well (and didn't madly love any of them anyway). There's a whole set of five Comme des Garçons incenses that people rave about, and though with one exception I haven't had much success with CdG in the past, these sound like the sort of thing I have to at least sample.

After wearing Incense Rosé for a few days, I know it isn't something I'd own, but I clearly have to try more of Tauer's scents: this one is so gorgeously constructed that I'd love to know what else he has up his sleeve. The leather-based Lonestar Memories sounds like something that is me, and I bet the lavendery Rêverie au Jardin is nice. Clearly I'm going to have to order a bunch of samples from The Perfumed Court, a website which offers hand-made samples of countless fragrances for those who want to try before they commit themselves to a whole bottle of something. I've avoided ordering from them because that way lies madness (there are easily a hundred things I want to try), but it's time to take the plunge, I guess.

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