– a review of Andy Tauer’s ‘Zeta’
Spring…has sprung, and as it has, as it does every time and every year, it takes me by surprise. The Japanese cherry trees are bursting out in all their girlish, pink powder puff blossoms, the morello cherries are dusting off those winter blahs in blinding, bridal white, and everywhere I turn, nature has exploded in every shade of tender green.
Two short months from now, high summer will arrive. When everything that grows and everything that lives is at its most alive and aware, when the trees turn a darker, denser shade of green and the linden trees begin to bloom.
Summer has so many scents and smells. The sharp tang of cold lemonade on a hot day, fresh-mowed grass after rain, the coconut aroma of sunscreen and that salty kiss of sea and sand, the sharp smell of ozone during a thunderstorm or the verdant zing of a tomato plant soaked in earth and sunshine. All of them evoke ‘summer’ in whatever sense of the word, but to me, nothing quite spells ‘summer’ and ‘magic’ quite so much as linden trees in bloom.
In my native Denmark, you will find linden trees nearly everywhere you go. The long driveways of centuries-old manor houses are planted with linden trees and so are winding country roads, city parks are packed with them, apartment buildings have them planted in courtyards and playgrounds. Linden trees and linden blossom everywhere, and no one I know can resist them when they bloom in all their gold-green glory, even for a moment. Toddlers and tearaways alike will stop in their tracks, look up, and for once be entirely present to breathe in that complex, green, heady scent.
This is what Andy Tauer chose to recreate in ‘Zeta’. In a unique correspondance with natural perfumer Mandy Aftel and thanks to Nathan Branch, we have been privy to their creative processes from the beginning, as they both chose their individual interpretations and the challenges they encountered and shared along the way.
Many linden-themed perfumes choose the green route, and forget that linden blossoms positively drip nectar as they bloom, nectar that is often used in linden blossom honey, with a unique flavor and aroma all its own.
Zeta is not one of those. If you’re familiar with Andy Tauer’s creations, you know they are often tenacious, bold and sometimes with the half-life of certain radioactive isotopes.
A bright green zap of bergamot wakes you up right out of the bottle, but this is no usual citrus, because in no time at all, a flawlessly orchestrated linden blossom accord grows and blooms by the heat of your skin, so much, you look around and wonder where you are. It’s much less sharp and loud than most linden blossom perfumes, and right when you, too, are caught dead in your tracks to just this one moment breathe…that honeyed nectar drips down upon you and wraps you in a gold-green glow as soft as a two-ply cashmere shawl, as sweet as a drop of honey on your tongue, and as heated as a perfect high summer day. Zeta isn’t just olfactory sunshine, it is olfactory heat, but it’s never obvious, it’s never loud and it’s never overwhelming. Instead, it’s ethereal as air. I can imagine Titania in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ dabbing this behind her ears, before she quarreled with Oberon.
Meanwhile, one very mortal human – yours truly – is blown away by two things. First, that linden blossom can be so heartstoppingly beautiful, so green, so sweet and so soft. And second…
I am the original Honey Monster. There are a few notes in perfumery I can’t personally stand to wear, and I tend to avoid those when I can. And then there is the one note that refuses to wear me under any circumstances and in any form. (Maybe I was a queen bee in an earlier life. I wouldn’t be surprised!)
Honey. Honey is amped up to 11+ on my skin, it grows and grows and grows like some sentient, alien life form until it’s all I can smell and all I will smell – for days. Even if this honey is unlike any other honey I’ve met in perfumery, even if it’s more blossom nectar than honey…this love affair, alas, is very much unrequited. So I shall take solace in those other Tauers that do love me and my Honey Monster skin, but I say this now – Zeta is as incomparable, as beautiful and as perfect as the warm shade under a blooming linden tree on that one day of the summer that you will never, ever forget.
But once in a high summer moon, a perfume can be created with such care, such love and such utter joy, it takes your breath away and makes you grateful to be alive to share such marvels, to sense and appreciate that alchymistic ease with essence and oil, plant and potion, regardless of whether or not you can wear it. It’s a testament to both the spirit of the concept – the genie in the bottle, if you will – and the spirit of the perfumer, and Zeta has so much utter joie de vivre, I’m amazed to find it confined to such a tiny glass vial.
Therefore, because it’s Spring, because this perfume is Spring personified as well as the liquid embodiment of Summer, and because I am a firm believer in the rule of ‘Give!’, since it rhymes with ‘Live!’, Scent Less Sensibilities is hosting its first ever giveaway. I have two retail samples of ‘Zeta’ to give away to my readers. I could be boring, and let random.org determine the outcome. I could use my magic 8-ball, or even my Tarot cards. I have a better idea. I will send each of those two samples – that I won fair and square myself – to the two most creative continuations of the sentence ‘I love Spring because…’
So I do. Sometimes, it’s pretty…magnificent to be reminded!
For as Pablo Neruda once wrote…
Let the wax raise green statues, let the honey drip in infinite tongues, let the ocean be a big comb
and the Earth a tunic of flowers…
And Andy Tauer responded:
“Linden shade in June –
sweet rose petals and the light
A winner will be announced on May 4th.