Neko Case - Red Tide (Live)
There's a smell here that stands my hairs on end
dog hair in the heater, gas pumps and cedar,
and jackknifes on the nine and seabirds choked on fishing line...
I am lately obsessed with Neko Case. Her albums have been in heavy rotation in my car and on my mp3 player for several months now, and I don’t see it stopping any time soon.
I saw her live a couple weeks ago, and she was stunning. The thing that impressed me most, and there were quite a few things to be impressed by, was how she stood. Neko Case stands like a singer, a real singer. Her arms hang free at her sides, her feet are shoulder width apart, her knees are loose, and her microphone is level with her mouth. Then she opens her mouth, and she just…sings. She just sings, and it is so beautiful. I almost never get to see people really sing like that. Even from pretty far back in the venue, she just blew the doors off the thing.
That little girl from Tacoma is one helluva talent.
There's a smell here of gravel and cigarettes lit
when the match made them sweet
when the engine turned over and beat up our street
Oh, that was the day to remember...
One of the songs I find myself coming back to over and over is “Red Tide.” The reason I getting stuck on it, in fact, is that the entire song is more or less about scent. Being a perfumista, that means I hear it and I think perfume. Over and over I keep thinking, what perfumes smell like the red tide Neko Case is singing of? A smell that stands my hairs on end. A smell of gas pumps and cedar, of gravel and cigarettes lit when the match made them sweet.
What things smell like that? What things smell “to me quite sinister”? A sinister perfume, one that is like the scent of the fires that leapt from the caves of the things that have not happened yet, bad and mysterious and dangerous things of an ominous future, a bad turn around a dark bend.
L’Artisan Dzing!? No, it’s quirky, but not sinister. Carmel corn and sawdust and animal sweat could be sinster, but only if it felt like a cheap circus tent set ablaze with every person and animal simultaneously stampeding toward the exits in panic. This is more like an elephant balancing a ball on its nose in a cute way, a Disney-esque take on circus life.
I dug through my boxes a few days ago, still in search of something sinister. The original DKNY Black Cashmere packaging certainly has the makings of a sinister perfume, all black and smooth like the obelisk from 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the scent is wrong, too cozy and full sparkly top notes.
I tried several slumberhouse scents because they are so weirdly wonderful, and the closest was slumberhouse Vikt, but it didn’t have quite the right ratio of attraction and repulsion to be sinister to me. It was too polished, to smooth. It lacked the ragged edge of fierceness that says "I scare you, so come here."
So what smells sinister? What smells like that dark and murky feeling that haunts you when you are just freed from your ugliest dreams? In other words, what smells like this:
|"The good Dale is in the Lodge, and he can't leave. |
Write it in your diary."
from the caves of the things that have not happened yet
when I think of it now they smell to me quite sinister.
For me Olympic Orchids Gujarat fits the bill quite like nothing else I have found so far. And I don’t mean since I started thinking about this song or even since I started in with perfume. I mean since I could smell things, because this is high up there on things I now think of as attractive and yet sinister. The lovely Ellen Covey described the scent as follows:
A spicy, smoky oriental, Gujarat is made with just about every spice you can name and some you probably never even heard of, softened and sweetened with tropical flowers, supported on a base of smoky woods, resins, and balms, and garnished with a dash of chili and a twist of lime.The scent is dark and voluptuous, sweet and earthy, full of pitch and tar and whatever else you attribute to the part of a darkness that attracts you to it. The sweet is sticky like sweat and forbidden things and signs that say "Stop!" and "Turn Back Now!" It is strange because it’s almost so full of the night, with its dangerously attractive qualities, that I might think it was unwearable. Instead, it’s beautiful. It’s lovely and soft and wicked and dangerous.
Gujarat is available as a parfum extrait or EdP and features notes of saffron, tulsi, lime, tagetes, jasmine, rose, cardamom, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, curry leaf, turmeric, mango, spikenard, olibanum, vetiver, patchouli, choya loban, black agar, and sandalwood.
And pretty freaking fantastic.
What about you, dear reader? Got any thoughts on those scents that when you think of them now smell to you quite sinister?