Thread: Chandler Burr Untitled S01E04
So you guys inspired me to wear my sample of Alpha Ionone yesterday. I hadn't tried it before and it was really interesting. It had the bright violet smell I expected in the initial blast, but I hadn't expected it to have so much of that suede smell underneath. In fact, after a while, the violet smell deteriorated to a smell of red berries brightened with a nostril-burning undertone of vodka or turpentine, but the suede smell kept going for hours. I'd even go so far as to say that when I describe a smell as suede, this is the chemical I'm smelling.
That being said, I still don't understand how this fits into EO4. I'm not doubting that it could be there, but if it is, it's just humming in the background, adding chemical brightness and a vaguely leathery depth (perhaps that "something earthy" that L'Homme smells), neither of which are featured enough in the finished scent that I can really smell them. It's kind of like linalool, which is supposedly in pretty much every perfume in existence, but that I never notice...
If the Untitled Series is going to last a year, I can't imagine why Mr. Burr would release E04 in September. E04 smells like April. Or May. E04 is the spring. It may even be late spring. Does E04 smell like September? No way. And it certainly isn't something to wear in October or November. E04 smells like a scent I would have put away this month in anticipation of autumn.
Last edited by L'Homme Blanc Individuel; 1st October 2012 at 08:14 AM.
The reveal is here:
Thanks, Mark, for asking my stupid question, CB's answer was so blunt it made me chuckle
*need to polish up my knowledge of art history & aesthetics*
But I see what he's getting at, even if the rest of us don't naturally speak in the language he recommends.
Seeing beyond the notes themselves is a good exercise for our minds, hearts and imaginations, as well as our senses.
Just like with E05 I really need to look up
-Mies van der Rohe’s famous dicturm of modernism
-philosophical musings of pop singer Heidi Montag
-a quintessential contemporary perfumer
-the literalist style
-plush, gold-leaf-and scarlet-velvet romanticism
-synthetic-curtain post-Romanticist sensuality
-21st century romanticism
So that's 9 different art history classes I would need to refresh LOL
I also wonder if the perfumers presented as artists also took art history
BURR STRAFES MATERIAL REDUCTIONISM WITH F-BOMB
MAGIC MOMENT: @13:05
Components Union Uproar
Vanilla: I'm Calling in Sick
Yuzu Surges: Y:49 V:47__
"Leave Vanilla Alone"____
I'm kind of at a loss for commentary. Has everyone watched the video yet? Did Chandler just call all of us stupid for daring to talk about what the perfume smelled like? It sure sounded like he did...
Does everyone remember his bloated introduction for what turned out to be Mugler Colonge where he blathered on using that horrid heroin/penetration metaphor? So, not only does he think that's how we should be intelligently discussing perfume (gee, I can symbolically experience the heroin, but I'm having trouble discerning the penetration... ), but he literally called us stupid for saying that EO4 smelled like tea when it was OBVIOUSLY an antique mirror...
Well, enough trolling. I can see how Chandler is really trying to elevate perfume criticism out of the chemical realm and I think there's a place for that. But calling what we do stupid is pretty tacky. Especially when I think pretty much everyone except Chandler would argue that any critique of perfume that doesn't include what it smells like is just silly.
Yes, I just watched it, but I went back and watched it twice - both for my little joke, and to really listen more closely.
I *REALLY* don't think he called us (or anybody) stupid. Honestly. But I think that he *IS* saying - more or less - is that we aren't properly, or frequently enough, talking about the ART - because we're talking mostly implementation, and neither algorithm nor architecture (to use software-speak). In the big picture, I totally agree with that.
All of them (implementation, architecture, and algorithm) bleed into each other, and you have to talk about all of these things to talk deeply, but we are tending to lean toward a certain lowest common denominator of communication centered on the nuts and bolts of implementation.
For instance, if somebody here made an argument that the fragrance "Pillows of Paradise" used a kind of powdery musk in the base, we would all be fighting over whether it was set in vanilla, tonka, or *whatever*, and nobody would be talking about all kinds of other stuff that might veer closer to art. Does the powder feel innocent or scandalous? We might stumble accidentally into words like "voluptuous", but would we stop to think deeply about that? Was something done technically WITH some component to create some kind of feeling or mood? Is it warm, cool, airy, breezy, cloud-like, bedroom-like, whatever?
Some of us prize reviews that get a bit metaphorical, but we tend to shy away from them as the common mode of communication - leaving them to be little treasures for the fanboys and fangrls.
And something we aren't doing at all, which Chandler seems to gravitate to, is exactly what you were doing earlier - trying to come up with geometric forms of description. To me those are really nice, and what I think is interesting, is how well they communicate. HOWEVER (point awarded to components) it would seem that you need a firm communication strategy, based on (cough) notes, in order to go beyond that. Or at least, that's the way it seemingly works here.
I think that chemistry has its place in the language as well, but it's not needed to talk about the art at all levels, particularly the higher ones. I believe that he's totally right about one thing. I think that at a high level, art history and art theory is completely transferrable to fragrance. Where I have a minor quibble is down low, closer to implementation. I think that there are unique challenges posed by the nature of the sense involved, and that there is new work needed there. Transferring anything to a new platform involves refactoring carefully at a low level, or you're in trouble. That much is almost a certainty in my opinion.
Here are one perfumer's thoughts on language and fragrance. I was pleased to see that he seems to agree with us in many ways.
BTW, I was pleased to see that it was Yuzu Rouge. I had initially guessed Yuzu Man before even sniffing it, based on analysis of his description. It was pretty clear that it was something else when I got it, and Yuzu Rouge was my next guess. But as a great measure of how much this series is changing me, I have gotten to the point that the guess wasn't worth sending off to Lucky Scent for a sample.
$ echo "My first guess for S01E04, based on the description, is Caron Yuzu Man" | shasum -a 256
afc78f30b37712da00909f26c5f0309f530a63493bd533ba99 87423599be01bb -
I sort of hated Yuzu Rouge when I smelled it years ago.
"Until you practice surrender, the spiritual dimension is something you read about, talk about, get excited about, write books about, think about, believe in — or don’t, as the case may be. It makes no difference. Not until you surrender does it become a living reality in your life."
-- Eckhart Tolle
Hopefully, when one is able to objectively perceive the aesthetic of a fragrance one can capture the whole in a way that resonates with others. When Burr described E04 as "a girl with flawless skin who's 16 years old in a summer dress on a sunny morning" I thought AH HA! that's exactly right.
After discovering what E04 was, and who the perfumeur is, I realized that I own two other scents he's done: Par Amour Toujour and Azzaro Pure Vetiver. I got the Pure Vetiver as a toss in with a swap, and I thought it was surprisingly nice for an inexpensive mass market scent. I even think you can see a hint of where he ended up going with Yuzu Rouge in its subtle use of grapefruit, cardamom and nutmeg (at least as I remember - haven't worn it recently).
As I was with L'Etrog, I'm glad I was introduced to Yuzu Rouge through the Untitled Series. It sure beats blind buys and random sampling. So I'm in again for E05, and I'm expecting something more worldly than the 16 year old girl of E04.
I guessed yuzu solely on the basis of the facts that (1) it actually is underused, (2) it's citrus, fitting his hints about "eau fraiche", etc., and (3) his other two underused components were Asian and even Japanese (shiso and ginger), and Burr is a japanophile, so it pretty much had to be yuzu.
I think that's pretty neat that you have two other scents by the same perfumer. I would NOT have guessed that.
Glad you're in for E05! And - yeah - even if we don't get Mae West on this round, I would not be complaining if we got Milla Jovovich or Sarah Silverman. Or if Burr simply has to be Burr, maybe Ziyi Zhang.
When I hear Chandler Burr say E04 is one of the most exquisite works of olfactory art, I am somewhat disheartened. In fact, I don't quite see how he would rate something like Givenchy Play (or Play Sport, for that matter - although this he hasn't reviewed) as pedestrian, when it too is as balanced and perfect, in a commercial-sheen sense, as L'Etrog or Yuzu Rouge, and arguably more complex than either. Play Sport is actually more in line with these scents - ultra-sheer and refined and simple and very very tonal - a pure and rich singular tone.
Something tells me that if we reversed this experiment and sent him Play Sport, blind, he'd end up loving it and describe it in lavish prose.
I do love some modern/sheer works, but I disagree with him in a sense about these simple scents being more difficult to compose (and is he implying then, technically superior?) than a truly complex scent (like say, Interlude Woman). Maybe, before there was a glut of them on the market, they were as difficult or more difficult than the more complex/dense scents - and I do agree that there's less room to hide, but there are so many scents in this vein and there have been for so long that I think it's disingenuous to imply what he seems to be implying, especially given the ease with which perfumers can view the formula (or at least a pretty damn good sketch) of whatever strikes their fancy through gc/ms.
Iris Pallida 50ml
Ungaro I 75ml
and more! - http://www.basenotes.net/threads/301...n-Man-and-more
I think this Untitled Series is forcing me to take a different approach to smelling a scent.
When I'm looking for a scent to buy, I have a goal. I want something that wears marvelously on my skin and serves a purpose for me. I may be looking for a date scent or a work scent. Something that would become part of my wardrobe. How it serves me is very important, much like trying on a pair of pants and looking in the mirror. When smelling a scent, the first thing I judge is: "Does this fit?" Right or wrong, that's what I do.
But I can't take that approach with the Untitled series. I can't because they're random, other than that they fit the profile of a Chandler Burr favorite. It wouldn't even make sense to try to judge them based on how they fit me. Instead, I take in the scent for what it is. That really helps in terms of discovering the scent as a work of art... but is art the only purpose of a scent?
I LOVE functional fragrance, meaning all fragrance that is not exclusively meant to be sold as a perfume. It is also the area of perfumery that interest me the most as it is loads more challenging than fine fragrance. It combines cosmetic chemistry with fragrance chemistry and is imho the area where most innovation is done.
I believe it was Turin that wrote something about some fabric softener that he would love to have bottled? That's how I feel.
Thus I think one can see fragrance as functional (in this case including fragrances that are fit to wear to a specific situation) and sometimes as art. The classic example of Secretions Magnifique, totally unwearable but such fun concept and execution!
Perfume as art must have something else, the 'je ne sais quoi' factor like any other object of art that you can admire in a museum or exposition, but wouldn't use to tile the bathroom It totally fits into Burr's purpose of this series and his role as the curator of the department of olfactory art at MAD.
Unfortunately it demands a whole other perspective at experiencing perfume, a perspective that is imho difficult to grasp for several reasons: a) it demands a deep knowledge of art history and art aesthetics; b) it demands using a new language that most of us haven't yet mastered; c) it demands the willingness and ability to see it with CB's eyes.
I think it would be loads easier to just go to an olfactory exposition where CB guides you through every single piece and explains what he sees and means. Atm my main observation is that CB doesn't seem to have the patience to be a good teacher. It's like he expects the participants to speak fluently Japanese by talking to them in Japanese about perfume for just 5 minutes each month. Only the few that actually master the language will be able to follow and appreciate.
The analogy to music makes sense to me, to a degree. We often approach music through instrumentation, genre, style and other descriptive technical and formal elements before, apart from and/or entwined with our aesthetic and emotional responses. And many (all?) forms of music may become MORE aesthetically and emotionally accessible with greater technical and formal understanding.
Besides, as we well know, "notes" themselves are often more poetry (and/or marketing) than technical description. Tea is my real world reference for E04, but it doesn't literally smell like tea to me, as much as it reminds me of other fragrances that feature a "tea" note, probably none of which contain any actual tea as a raw material. So notes are a kind of impressionistic, associative language for understanding fragrances as much (or more than) a reductive materialistic one.
Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting.
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.
My sales thread: http://www.basenotes.net/threads/304...85#post2614885
Wanted: YSL Nu EdP
Red The Fradge Report you crack me up, Bravo!
Now sliding the soapbox over stepping up and speaking in my piercing yet somehow lovable(?) voice:
I wanted to chime in on the idea that Chandler looks down on us for thinking of notes first. He doesn't think less of us but he does passionately disagree with us, thus the F-bomb.
I hope you can tell I am somewhere in the middle on this. I very much believe if there is ever going to be an appreciation of Olfactory Art there has to be someone who steps up and applies a framework for the rest of us to build upon. One of the reasons I think what Chandler is doing is so important is that he is one of maybe two or three people who can command the attention of all the relevant stakeholders and get them into the room. From there I think we can take it on our own.
I believe the catalog he authors for The Art of Scent exhibit is going to be the foundation on which all of us eventually do build a consistent way of conversing about Olfactory Art. I see his identification of Schools of Perfumery as a place for us to have a serious discussion about what belongs in each category as well as which olfactory artists excel at a particular style.
Irina I don't think you have to have an art history degree to be part of this discussion but as a place to start that is the template Chandler is laying down. From there it will hopefully be a discussion among those of us who believe in the existence of Olfactory Art and we will agree and disagree and eventually evolve the discussion and form a vocabulary. People like you need to be part of this and not check out but instead help shape it. If this is to be truly successful Chandler needs to have voices which are willing to challenge and provoke his notions, this can't be a one-way conversation.
It is my belief that there is a place for notes in this evolving discussion. You can't talk about Eau Duelle without mentioning vanilla it just doesn't make sense to me. You can't talk about Yuzu Rouge without mentioning the tea and yuzu. Artists have been spoken of by their ingredients before; Picasso's Blue Period or Red Period, Monet's Red Period, the marble used in Michelangelo's sculptures. What I agree with Chandler about is it can't just be about the notes. When it is special, when it is something we would call Olfactory Art it should make us feel something and that is what we need to evolve a vocabulary for.
Stepping down from the soapbox taking a drink and looking forward to the discussion.
More writing on fragrance by me to be found at http://www.cafleurebon.com/
I have to admit that I was ready to write off this whole thing. But I do think Chandler has a valid point, though I don't feel he made it very well in that video.
If you're looking at a painting in a museum and you study the brushstrokes and the way the oil paints were mixed and then just stop, thinking you understand and have experienced the painting even though you haven't given any thought to the subject of the painting or the emotion or the symbolism or the history behind it, that really is pretty stupid.
I've definitely been guilty of this in perfume criticism, mostly when I find a scent technically flawed and then don't bother looking for the art or the intent behind it. On a larger scale, we do tend to spend a lot more time telling each other what a perfume smells like than we do how it makes us feel, but I think, especially in an internet setting where we're talking to people who aren't in the room with us smelling the same thing, that's kind of a requirement.
That being said, art historians and critics DO look at the materials and techniques used in art. All the time. So I don't believe that eliminating this from the discussion is required in order to reach a higher level of communication - Actually, I'd argue the opposite. Once we had all established that we smelled the tea in EO4, we could talk about it more easily having agreed on a group vocabulary.
And, as one last personal point, I really don't like when the conversation gets too "elevated." After 4 years of university comparative literature, I know how deep criticism can get up its own ass, to the point where it's nothing more than meaningless buffoonery and vocabulary showboating. While I think there's a place for that in academia, I'd hate to see us all sitting around spouting a bunch of obscure philosophical arguments at each other, all of us trying to sound smarter than the last person by using increasingly obscure reference points while completely ignoring what the perfume we're supposedly talking about actually smells like.
I couldn't agree more about (bad) university classes in comparative literature. I will admit here and now that I reject post-modernism in its entirety as the biggest fraud ever perpetuated on/by academia. But I've recovered from the trauma of my university experience and have discovered that independent study can be worthwhile -- even if it sometimes involves philosophical tomes (I always get evangelical about the most recent thought-provoking book I've read, and tend to reference it and quote from it to anyone who will listen. If you've got a minute, let me tell you about "On Being Authentic"...) And I hope we can all be charitable enough to presume that the person spouting obscure arguments is doing it out of a desire to understand or be understood instead of to sound smart.
I don't think there is really ever any final story on the language of anything, much less scent. It's just a flow of information in a sea of information - it's whatever happens. Sooner or later, the paths become clear, and they become powerful, and it's beautiful. So don't wait for it to settle - jump in and swim!
I do agree with both you and Chandler about simple scents. I have always been a firm believer in the idea that novel simplicity is much harder than novel complexity. But everything you're saying is true as well.
Honestly, I think Chandler is just modeling what it is like to speak simple Japanese sentences. I think he's demonstrating what grammar looks like, but we aren't talking real rules or anything yet. Let me suggest that WE need to be patient, too!
The objectification - that's interesting. If I could make an analogy, I would say that the sexuality of the manga culture bothers Japanese women as little as the violent gaming culture of American bothers American women. I, personally, find first-person-shooters horrifying, but they seem to bother most American moms about as much as manga bothers my wife.
But I agree that the Japanese business world has more of a glass ceiling problem than we do.
- - - Updated - - -
Knowing the way things actually work, however, the greatest insights will surely come from off-the-cuff n00b comments.
Thank you for the re-cap, Red!
I won't shy away from discussion about fragrance, the industry, olfactory language etc, no, by all means. And I will be reading and contributing. I am just a bit disappointed atm in CB's untitled series, especially as getting to actually smell the episodes before reveal is so hard for non-US residents.
But I do love the threads and the input, it's a joy for me to come here daily and read y'all!
I decided to order a full bottle of Yuzu Rouge through OpenSky, and I was delighted when I got the package - they included 15 ml samples of four other 06130 scents: Cèdre, Lentisque, Feuille de Réglisse, and Lierre Rose. I do like the aesthetic of the line: the two I've tried seem to share the uncluttered feel of Yuzu Rouge, although they're by a different perfumer (Jacques Chabert) and aren't quite as smooth and seamless as it. But it was a nice surprise to get four little sample bottles with my order.
(Cèdre is also by Raphael Haury, but I haven't tried that yet.)
Last edited by Perfume_Addict; 19th October 2012 at 01:56 PM.