I was introduced to M.C. Escher's art when I was about nine or ten. I remember my father commenting that Escher made art for engineers. He wasn't dissing anyone. My dad's an engineer and was just making what I thought was a funny observation. Years later as I was dating engineer-types I realized he was right.
I was thinking about Escher lately because a conversation with my friend Jessica made me think of Andy Tauer's Pentachord perfumes in a new way (Jessica just reviewed Pentachord White on NST). I've been trying to figure them out for long months. Testing, retesting and wishing they made sense to me in the context of Tauer's work. Andy's perfumes are always an emotional experience for me. He manages to capture parts of my soul, current and forgotten ones and for that I'm eternally grateful.
The Pentachords are different. They are perfectly and symmetrically composed with a mathematical logic and beauty. Once I started looking at them as an Escher painting it all made sense. Every Pentachord perfume has exactly five notes. Every note is one synthetic molecule that captures its abstract idea. These are fragments of a picture. Put them together, side by side; what do you see? Is it an optical illusion?
White is pretty. White is clean. I wouldn't have necessarily expected this level of starkness from the notes. orris and violet can be many things, but they're rarely a conceptish white penthouse in Manhattan with glass walls and a river view. The fragrance dries down to a very easy on the nose vanilla with just enough sweetness to keep me in business. It's incredibly clean and I can wear it with ease. I just don't feel like wearing it most of the time.
Notes: violet blossom, orris root, bourbon vanilla, ambergris, wood.
Verdant is the most difficult for me. The juicy plump leaves are so green and too sweet. I smell a very industrialized mint, which rarely agrees with me. The notes suggest that the greenery might decay and become browner and warmer, but it never happens on my skin. It's green forever, and not necessarily in a good way.
Notes: green leaves, leather, brown tobacco, earth, amber.
Auburn is my favorite of the three Pentachords and the one most easily recognized by the Tauer signature, even if it's stripped down. Auburn is also very clean, which I have yet to figure out how Andy managed that. My best guess is to blame the citrus blossom note which is more like a laundry-grade neroli (think Le Labo), which presides over the ambery cinnamon. Auburn is wonderfully calming to me. It's the one I'd reach for when cranky, instantly feeling how its uncomplicated nature adjusts itself around me.
Notes: citrus blossom, cinnamon, tobacco, amber, sandalwood.
Tauer Perfumes Pentachords: Verdant, Auburn, White ($150, 50ml EDP each) are available from MiN NY and Luckyscent. At the moment, Luckyscent is having a special on Auburn ($100). A sample set of all three was sent to me by the perfumer.
Art: Lizard 2 by M.C.Escher, 1942, via wikipaintings.org