Monday, August 16, 2010

The dreaded woody amber!

A pernicious material known as the woody amber has been going around ruining fragrances for me. Woody ambers are the chupacabra of scent. (I was going to say jackalope, but are jackalopes pernicious? Turns out yes: These "killer rabbits" can "convincingly imitate any sound, including the human voice." So jackalopes, I guess, are the John Carpenter's The Thing of cryptids.)


I first experienced the dreaded woody amber in Citizen Queen, but I didn't know what it was yet. Then it came out to play in Chanel Coromandel, a patchouli scent that I expected to love. But I could barely smell the patchouli because the damn woody amber was in the way. At the moment it's busy ruining Musc Ravageur by Maurice Roucel. By all accounts this seems to be a more expensive version of L de Lolita Lempicka, which I dearly love. From a foot away, it does approximate L; up close, it's nothing but that DAMNABLE WOODY AMBER, the dog whistle of smells. According to Luca Turin:
The woody ambers are harder to describe, though their uniquely clean character is reminiscent of certain kinds of windscreen-wiper fluids or of the stuff finicky old-timers used to clean real vinyl records with. In other words, they smell of isopropyl alcohol, only in a luxury class, fully upholstered version. Woody ambers are very popular at the moment, because they add sparkle to all sorts of otherwise soggy and sweet oriental confections.
The best way I can describe them is volatile. It's a piercing smell like specialized cleaning solvents, a little rubbery. It's interesting that I seem to be hyperosmic to woody ambers, to the point that the other notes are dwarfed in comparison, because I'm also hyperosmic to certain aldehydes, also said to give "sparkle" to scents. To my nose, aldehydes sparkle like the output of a fog machine, and woody ambers sparkle like a railroad spike to the frontal lobe.

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