Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It's been a while since I blogged about any aromachems, and that's a damn shame, because I've prolly gone through almost 100 since the last time I posted, and I can't remember where I stopped. But I've been deep in the woods, through violet country, into the white flower vortex and across craters of green leaves. But alas, since I don't remember all my impressions of those chems (well, I can tell you linalool right now: a pared-down rosewood/coriander is what I get from it. I always thought it would be more floral, and I still don't know exactly what 'agrestic' means. But there you go. My mom thought linalool smelled woody), then I guess that ship has sailed. So I'll just report on the most recent acquisition, which is just 3, one I'm sure I mentioned before. Let's start with that one, I suppose:

Musk ketone: Goddamn, I love this chem. It's like the perfect musk (except that it's not very soluble in alcohol)--the first isolated musk I smelled was Cosmone, which I thought smelled like heaven. I think musk ketone smells like a more fleshed-out version of Cosmone. I get a powdery musk quality to it and what seems like a slight vanillic angle. I haven't blended it much because it doesn't seem to dissolve in anything (was out of DPG when I got it the first time and am out now). But I have sprinkled it a little and used it in a warmer with other stuff--in the warmer it seemed to contribute an aspect that always makes me think of my first experiences with Oscar by Oscar de la Renta. That rich, full, powdery, ambery kind of smell. Of course I don't think it's contributing an amber smell, and I doubt there's any Oscar on the shelves today with musk ketone, if there ever was, but that's what it makes me think of when I combine it with stuff. I also had musk xylene for a while, and to my nose it's much the same as the ketone, but I would say that I prefer the ketone, even if I can't articulate a reason why. Anyway, it's nice to have a li'l bit of nitro musk around, even if I don't get to start that "odor museum" that I wanted to.

Second: Piconia, aka isolongifolene ketone. This one hits my sweet spot. I'm not sure whether it's incredibly, ineffably wonderful or whether it's just been a long time since I smelled one of those dry woody with tabac and amber nuances chems. I expected it to smell kinda patchouline (I don't think that's a word, but I like the way it sounds), and it does, a bit. It smells very dry, earthy, woody with patchouli, tobacco (dry, unflavored tobacco; not that rich, sweet, heavy, almost fruity, hay tone of tobacco absolute), vetiver and amber angles. It reminds me a bit of Kephalis--its earthy, tobacco, dry quality. It also reminds me a bit in the beginning of methyl cedryl ketone. It's got a great dry woody character, but it's not hyperultramegasuperstrong like Karanal or Timberol or Okoumal (I think the latter two are considered to be 'medium' in strength; but they're strong to me--very harsh. But Okoumal has a nice quality to it that underlines its piercing woodiness). (It bears repeating: Karanal is STRONG.) I also think that it is, in some way, a wee bit like isobutyl quinoline, but not quite as rich and decidedly less strong (ISBQ is another reedonkulously strong chem, but not unpleasant at 100%. Just opening a 2mL bottle will fill a room with its scent, which I find to be woody, very earthy, leathery in a sense and pleasant). I wish I'd had this chem when I had all the other woody ones and was tinkering. I would love to try it with tobacco absolute, which is one of my favorite smells ever.

Veratraldehyde, aka vanillin methyl ether. I think I love every variation of vanillin I come across. By far my favorite is vanillyl isobutyrate (Isobutavan), which smells like a creamsicle without the orange. At 100% it has a weird glue-like tone, but if you just handle a bottle and a bit gets on your hands, your fingers smell like ice cream. After that I guess would be vanillin. Maybe this one after that. Then I suppose ethyl vanillin (is it odd that I prefer vanillin to ethyl vanillin? I will say one thing about e.v., though: sprinkle some in your shoes, and when you take them off they'll smell like Angel. Well, the vanillic part of Angel. With a touch of stink. OK, a heaping shit-ton of stink. And Angel!!!!!!!) Veratraldehyde smells creamy to me. And also a bit like a certain cereal that I can never name. It smells like a flavor used in cereal, I guess you could say. And it can be used as a flavor, at 50ppm, I think, where thegoodscentscompany's page says it tastes "sweet, creamy, vanilla-like." It also says it's a heliotropin replacer, but unfortunately I don't get any cherry-almond or Play-Doh notes from it. ...Which reminds me---I finally smelled actual heliotrope flowers (lindenflowers as well) recently, and their cherry-vanilla scent was very much what I expected. Now I wish I could smell vanilla cresol (Ultravanil), because I'd like to see how the phenolic note in it influences it, if it smells more vanilla absolutist. So Givaudan, feel free to send me some samples of that and anything else you don't mind parting with.

And that's today's aromachem report.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Flavor Is the New Fragrance

INTUITION ALERT: Flavor is the new fragrance. This is what my intuition tells me. And am I just basing this on a vague feeling that I have, with no real outside evidence? Of course. Because I've found these feelings to be purt-near always predictive, even if they hint at a trend years before it takes shape. I'm sure I could find evidence to support this opinion, because there's evidence to be found to support any point of view, and it would be disingenuous to just cherry-pick things from here and there to support any conclusion I want to come to. I'm not interested in doing that right now--I'm not a risk management consultancy.

But I'll say what I can say: The world of fragrance has gotten bloated and overexposed. Every year the companies bring out a new scent, usually some barely-retooled "summer" version of one they already have. Or another forgettable number. Take Escada, for example---how many too-similar perfumes do we need that smell of a tropical fruit bouquet? You'd think they would have stopped from shame alone after putting out a scent named "Tropical Punch." (Disclosure: I loved Tropical Punch. But I never bought it. I bought a $3 fake oil that smelled, thanks to gas chromatography, exactly like it. And the fact that I kept using the oil and bought it again recommends the scent, because often I would buy the oils to see if my initial attraction to the scent lasted--it usually didn't.) That's more down Demeter's alley, what with its scents from Jolly Rancher and all. Maybe it's no accident that candy companies account for so much of Demeter's inventory lately, and that one sponsored Mariah Carey's last perfume endeavour.

The takeaway here is: There are too many fragrances out there. Everything smells the same. The novelty is gone. Even in the big-companies-pretending-to-be-niche-ones putting out themed fragrance sets: Cartier with it's L'Heures, Dolce with its tarot nonsense, blah blah.....

This is not fragrance as art. This is fragrance as profit/loss statement. Perfumers didn't come up with these scents; marketers did, and accountants finished them off. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if perfumers didn't even work on any recent launches: if they're all designed by a computer program. Furthermore, if there ever was boldness in the industry, it's gone now. Who could put out anything interesting without it being watered down by marketing or focus groups or accounting? Who could afford to do so on hir own?

Lastly: saturation. Where is there NOT fragrance? It's been put everywhere except, possibly, the New York subway system. Hotels have fragrances; every celebrity has a fragrance; every well-thought out themed environment is (inoffensively) scented; some offices no doubt pipe into their buildings scents someone told them make people more productive. The only thing fragrance can do is contract. (And is this why The Body Shop hasn't updated its home fragrance oils since it switched to the new design? So long, Steamed Milk, Almond, and all the others. Now it's just solidly mass-appeal Jasmine-&-Whatever, Standard-Issue Linen, Vanilla-"Tonka", etc......)

So where does this leave us with flavor? Well, most obviously: room to grow.

Look at the flavors section on The Perfumers Apprentice website. It's growing well. I've ordered from it, and I love experimenting with the products.

Or look all around you. Restaurants, packaged food products, drinks.... Everywhere there's room for new sensations. Abstract flavors. Floral or earthy flavors. I've had perfumed champagne once, and it was the best champagne I've ever had--it beat the Mo√ęt.

But let's look at a specific example of where flavor is really working for a product: Pringles. Who doesn't love Pringles? If you don't love Pringles, then you're wrong. The original tasted great, but now we have all these new flavors to choose from, and flavors that are only here for a limited time and then are gone. It's exciting. Unlike in perfume, where it's become tedious. I have no interest in trying the latest variation of Liz Claiborne's Curve or even Chanel No. 5. But when I see Rosemary & Olive Oil Pringles, I buy them right away. And if I could find the blueberry Pringles someone mentioned to me, I would buy those too. There's still novelty there. Novelty and fun without the luxury price tag. And the best thing is that every flavor of Pringles still tastes like Pringles. They're Pringles, but different.

Now, that's just one example. This has actually been happening for a while--think of seasonal variations in flavor in hard candy. While not quite the same thing, Starbucks will occasionally introduce a limited flavor for a holiday, with limited (aesthetic) success. (Let's just say that there is a LOT of room for improvement in coffee syrup flavorings. Not only are they too sweet, but the flavors feel scrawny and even harsh. Why must a syrup labeled 'vanilla' taste like something you'd buy at the dollar store when there are probably hundreds of compounds that could be blended to create a fleshed-out vanilla? Why must it taste so bad when extract containing nothing but vanillin and alcohol can sometimes taste great? Is it something in coffee which needs to be masked/blended/otherwise accounted for? Does the formulation of the syrup need changing? Perhaps better syrups will come along.) I say the trend will grow, and hopefully some very interesting flavors will come around before the trend goes all corporate and is crushed by the limited minds that occupy that world.

Anyway, that's what I wanted to say, in my typical fractured style. Flavor is the new fragrance. You can count on that.

POSTSCRIPT: No, I'm not being paid by Pringles. That kind of luck doesn't happen to me. But I do love Pringles, and if anyone from the company that makes them is reading, feel free to send me several cases of the product. I've been practically living on them lately, anyway. Think of it as "supporting the arts." Or the crackpots. Or whatever you wanna think. Flerp!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Songs of Inspiration for People Who Are Hurting

Please excuse this interruption of the inertia for a plonch of self-promotion:

Are you hurting? Good. Because now the hurt is over.

Behold the new EP from saint-at-large Ed Shepp, Songs of Inspiration for People Who Are Hurting.

This revolutionary EP, this seminal moment in the history of music, exists to bring comfort, inspiration and even a smile to the masses of the world who are going through the hardcore ish that life sometimes throws our way. If you're hurting, this EP is for you.

But how do I know if I'm hurting?

Good question. 5589 out of 5590.5 psychotherapists estimate that everything that everyone ever does is because they're hurting. So if you've done something today, odds are you're hurting, and that you're not alone. In double-blind studies at medical research centres all over the globe, listening to this Ed Shepp EP led to FULL REMISSION of hurting symptoms in ~99.47631% of patients diagnosed by world-class psychologists with world-class hurting. That's 99.47632% better results than placebo, psychotherapy and throwing phones.

If you're hurting, this EP will help you deal with your ish. But don't hoard this wonderful gift for yourself, like an investment banker or Madonna. If you know someone who's hurting, play it for them too. Here are a couple examples of who this EP can help:

-- Are your neighbors having loud sex, keeping you up at night and destroying quality knitting time? If they are, it's because they're hurting. Play this the next time they're making all that noise. They'll be smiling, and you'll have spread Peace on Earth.

-- Is your coworker being a dinkus, or do you want him to think that you think that he's being a dinkus and that you're punishing him for it? He's probably hurting. Don't punish him with Celine Dion or Diamanda Galas. Relieve his hurting by playing this EP on repeat.

-- Have you been torturing political prisoners but not been able to get information? Maybe the problem is that they're hurting. Play them this EP repeatedly, and they might finally talk.

-- Is your wife constantly bitching at you to take out the trash, even though if she'd stop painting her nails for a second she could just do it herself and not spoil your communion with The Simpsons? She's hurting. Play this EP at a volume that will drown out her complaining. And feel peace.

There are many more uses for this world-changing EP. Explore the EP and find them yourself. You will most definitely be relieved of your hurting, and you will be bringing positive energy into the world.

Songs of Inspiration for People Who Are Hurting, the new EP by Ed Shepp. Spread the love.

-- Bob Dylan

Download average quality (128kbps) quality links by clicking on the track names below, or download high-quality (320kbps) mp3s by clicking the song icons beneath the track listing.

Songs of Inspiration for People Who Are Hurting

1. Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)

2. Beautiful

3. I Don't Want to Wait

4. My Heart Will Go On