Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has quite a reputation of turning pantheons, poetry, and pop culture into remarkable scents. But one area seems to have missed this fragrant treatment: music. But now through a collaboration with the Miskatonic Valley Philharmonic, Black Phoenix has made an accompanying perfume line with an opening performance featuring the innovative (and morbid) composer, Franz Liszt.
I thought I would put a few selections from the concert, Obsidentur Mortem, so you can get a sense of their perfume pairing. The problem is that, according to the rather odd lady from the Philharmonic, sharing the music is considered a federal offense. Not a federal privacy offense, but it falls under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You know, the one that made software to equivalent of weapons. She then went on this rant about how how much they had to spend on crime scene cleaners because of a regulation on performance spaces being blood-free. I hung up because while I enjoy Welcome to Nightvale, I don’t want to end up in an episode. So the clips here are provided from the International Music Score Library Project and Youtube.
La Lugubre Gondola was Liszt’s tribute to the great composer, Richard Wagner, who died in Venice in 1883. This piece encompasses the innovations Liszt made late in his career. Its harmonies are more complex and its chords are mixed into new forms. Its somber journey from the softness at the beginning to a loud crescendo reflects the journey Wagner’s body in its funeral gondola to Venice’s Santa Lucia railway station. The scent version has an Oriental aspect that is present in the long trading history of Venice. But the main focus is the Catholic incense and oils present at the funeral mass.
Nuages gris, like many of his later works, is about despair. Cursed with ill health and having old friends dying around him, Liszt felt more and more isolated while his world became more and more disordered. His adversity may be why he went in new directions with his music because he could not express his depression and isolation by conventional composition. The scent is interesting in what it does not do: going for the standard heavy blackness most people associate with depression. Depression can feel more grey than black and the sufferer can just lay there without expressing any emotion at all. The scent is light with a hint of spice, perhaps representing the pain Liszt and others feel but cannot fully express.
Liszt wrote three Funeral Odes between 1860 and 1866. The second , La Notte, was inspired by the death of his daughter, Blandine. Liszt used the musical styles of his native Hungary to invoke a nostalgia for what he lost: the land of his childhood, his family and his friends. He felt his piece expressed his feeling so much, he wanted La Notte played at his funeral. The fragrance has the smell of old forests of his early life and a darker note that gives you a feeling of loss and grief.