Sunday, January 10, 2010

Luca Turin, Matt Weston, Perfumes, Seasick Blackout

Luca Turin. Perfumes. That's right--Perfumes The Guide by Luca Turin. Luca Turin...greatest critic/writer since Mencken? The greatest critic/writer criticizing and writing today? Lord God King Luca Turin?


Dune (Dior) ***** fresh oriental
Forget suburban-gothic names, forget all the phony "noirs," from Angelique to Orris. True, menacing darkness is not to be found in upset-the-parents Alice Cooper poses, but in this disenchanted, ladylike gem. Loosely inspired by the excellent Venise five years earlier (Yves Rocher, 1986), Dune is a strong contender for Bleakest Beauty in all of perfumery. It is clearly headed from the very start towards that peculiarly inedible cheap-chocolate drydown that made Must, Allure (q.v. for a fuller account of the effect), and a thousand others, though Dune's is the best of the lot, dissonant but interesting. But the way it gets there is extraordinary, with a beguiling transparency, even freshness, particularly in the anisic carrot-seed top notes. It is hard to pin down what makes Dune so unsmiling from top to bottom: it's as if every perfumery accord had become a Ligeti cluster chord, drained of life, flesh-toned in the creepy way of artificial limbs, not real ones. Marvelous.

Laguna Homme (Salvador Dali) * trashoid oriental
If you drive a Moscow taxi at night, this one's for you

Remix for Her (Armani) * fruity floral
A trite, canned-fruit-salad confection of no interest except to illustrate the cynicism and idiocy of its makers.

...and so on and so on for a few hundred pages. Tania Sanches is no dummy, and no question she can write and write well, but after a while, once your totally drunk on Turin's totally electrifying virtuosity with the written word, she just gets in the way.

You have to admire how quickly Turin can drop the science. You also have to admire Turin's fearless critical directness backed by total erudition and cultural literacy, not to mention an encyclopedic knowledge of and totally cutting edge position as practitioner within the subject.

Something to which we can all aspire, no?

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Seasick Blackout (Matt Weston, 7272 music) ***** electronic future-memories
Hey, how did Matt Weston get the sounds in my head on to that CD? Seasick...blackout--been there, done that, and now I know what it sounds like: scary, ubercontrolled in an out-of-controlled way, dark and loud. A contemporary tone poem about Man cowering and pissing himself in the face of an/our/the ever increasing mechanized brutalization of society and the brutal mechanization of culture--and mechanized brutality's reaction. The experience of listening on the way to work (catering a wake) in a snow storm, driving a traction-free Ford truck that not only wants to bankrupt me but kill me too, Seasick Blackout was so totally appropriate it was as if the CD wasn't even on. Once it was over, in the silent din of my own thoughts amid winter driving conditions, I realized that should I ever find myself high on LSD, Seasick Blackout will either be the last thing I'll listen to or the only thing I'll listen to. One of those kinds of records.

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The Turin dimension: "remain(s) but fleeting illusions, to be pursued but never attained" To quote his holiness Haile Selassie I.

And yet there are a lot of CD's which deserve all the virtual attention they can get, and by gum, now that I got my scanner working, I'm going to scan the covers and write a paragraph about all of them. I can use the practice writing (and thinking and listening) and the two or three of you who regularly check in can just as easily not check in, since this is just the internet anyway and words mean less now than ever before.

copyright © 2010 Stanley Jason Zappa