Almost everytime there's a post on *Kouros*, the fabled "piss note" or "urinal cake note" is mentioned--too often with a prurient glee, and even more often, unfortunately, with a persistent denial that any fragrance can have a “pee note” in it. A denial that usually borders on the absurd and even the pathological as certain posters go to inordinate lengths and argumentative contortions to keep the fabled piss note out of their beloved *Kouros*.
No perfumer worth his or her salt would deny the use of what are called “urinous” and “fecal” notes to augment the power, substantivity, diffusivity, not to mention the longevity of a fragrance. Some of the most important fixatives in perfumery--civet, castoreum, labdanum, musks, and even white floral absolutes like that those of jasmine and neroli all contain in varying degrees urinous and fecal notes that have proven indispensible to the perfumer’s art and have formed the bedrock of great women’s perfumes and, to a lesser extent, men’s fragrances. The best sandalwood oils are prized for adding a urinous animalic tonality to the basenotes of fragrances. These are not just my terms; these are the terms of perfumers and those involved in the production and refinement of aroma chemicals.
I am, therefore, weighing in, once again, on the conversation with how I understand the nature of this fable “piss” note in Kouros. I have already posted this response in another thread, but I can’t seem to link to it, so I beg the reader’s indulgence in posting it again.
Suprisingly, what is not mentioned often at all is the strong and persistent animalic note that is woven into the entire drydown of *Kouros*. It is present from the first spray and persists to the end of *Kouros's* dying breath.
The "piss note" comes from this animalic component. Any one of three notes, jasmine, amber, or musk might be responsible for such a note. More than likely, it is the musk. Jasmine and amber tend to have a high indole component and project the fecal notes in many fragrances. Certain musks--and civet also--have a fecal component but also have what can be termed a urinous component to them, or, less delicately, a "piss note".
My experience from observing various reactions from Basenoters to various civet and musk containing fragrances is that some people have a hightened sensitivity to "piss notes" and some a complete "blind spot" (a.k.a. selective anosmia). Sorry, I'm mixing my metaphors.
Animalic components in fragrances are high-powered ways of extending the diffusivity and longevity of fragrances and, it's undeniable, their attraction. When blended well, as they're are in *Kouros*--unless you happen to be one of those people who is hypersensitive to fecal or urea notes--they intensify and clarify certain notes and also carry many of them, giving them an extension into the drydown they would not otherwise have had. They also add extra body and palpability to the fragrance, a certain undeniable textured aromatic substantivity. Finally, it should be noted, they appeal, at a very deep level, to the primal recognition of bodily odors by which--in our not so distant past--we used as the main means of identifying our fellow creatures, much like dogs do, and which were very closely tied to sexual attraction.
Much of this explains, on one level, why there are such strong, diametrically opposed responses to *Kouros* and perhaps, also, why so many women tend to find it a very attractive fragrance on a man. Furthermore, since women's fragrances have, traditionally, tended to be about seduction, it should not surprise us that fecal and urea notes have featured prominently in such fragrances, predominantly through the urea component of civet and the indole component of jasmine and other white florals. On a very deep level, I suspect women get *Kouros* more than men do because of this experience with such ingredients. It's interesting to consider that of all the comments on the dreaded "piss notes" in *Kouros*, almost all of them have come from men. I recall that when the women on this board have weighed in on *Kouros* the "piss note" has not been an issue with them. (Please correct me if I'm wrong on this point.) I used to wear *Kouros* a lot in the 1980s. As far as I can recall, *Kouros* always received nothing but praise from women. Men's reactions were ususally divided.