[Part 2 of a review series on the new Tauer Perfumes fragrance Lonesome Rider. Please find the other parts here: Part 1 – Sjörn Part 2 | Part 3 – Claire | Part 4 – Narada – Available for purchase here ]
Andy Tauer is a titanic figure in the fragrance community. More personable, passionate, and involved in the community than many perfumers, it isn’t uncommon to see interviews with Tauer pop up on multiple YouTube feeds and fragrance websites. He has a blog (and actually uses it), and regularly visits retailers such as The Scent Bar in order to meet with fans. No stranger to controversy, he has declared niche perfumery dead and the industry swamped with greed. If it is not yet clear, Tauer is true artist, and a provocative one at that (he has even painted a couple of oil on canvas portraits of Donald Trump). Though I have never met him, I like him, partly for his bold personality and skill as an artist, but also for his humble character and
extraordinarily well-trimmed facial hair involvement in the community.
Unfortunately though, I have never quite clicked with his fragrances. For those that have not yet tried one of his fragrances, Tauer’s style is very distinct – as an example, test both L’air du Desert Marocain and his Gardenia side by side and you’ll see what I mean. Some of his fragrances have an aroma chemical feel to them that tickles my nose, but his overall style is very abstract, and many of his fragrances seek to tell a story. In L’air du Desert Marocain (a fragrance that I enjoy but does not suit me), the aroma chemical aspect is actually balanced very well, leading to a sensation of dry aridness that conjures images of the desert. But in Gardenia, it overpowers the fragrance in an unpleasant way, destroying the delicate nature of the flower. In any case, while his fragrances are usually hit or miss for me, I respect Tauer for who he is and what he stands for, so when he began to offer pre-release samples for sale (with a ‘choose your own price’ sales model, naturally), I decided to give his newest work, Lonesome Rider, a proper test. With some trepidation and a great deal of anticipation, I sprayed on the sample and ventured into the unknown.
Aha! There it was, an image as clear as day! Instead of explaining to you the notes, and what exactly I smelled, here is the story that Andy Tauer told me through his latest fragrance:
As it opened on my skin, I found crisp, clean air somehow paired with a blast of balsamic, smoky leather. Much to my surprise, the leather I found at the opening wasn’t the dusty cowboy leather of Lonestar Memories. Not at all. This was the leather of a policeman’s holster, the tarred-black, shiny, and rubbery leather of a SWAT officer’s gloves. The smoke was not the smoke of a campfire, nor was it reminiscent of open spaces. Instead, it reminds me of the fires one might find at a protest that has gotten out of control – plastic household goods, gasoline, and whatever is in sight, burning in the rickety confines of a metallic oil drum. At the opening, the scent is not fiery, but smoldering. It is a clash of opposites – of order, the forces of the Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes, lined up, armed and armored to defend people and property; and of chaos, the radicals in Guy Fawkes masks, burning whatever they can in a passionate protest against oppression.
And yet, despite the chaos and tension surrounding the impending clash of opposites, there was a soft, reassuring element about the scent. It is as if this scene is being witnessed from a distance. The embodiment of Lonesome Rider – a nameless and shapeless man – not in either camp, stands alone. His hands are in his pockets, scarf pulled tight against the cold. He witnesses the scene playing before him, and sympathizes with everyone – and no one. The man echoes in his mind the scream for liberty coming from the protestors. Equally, he understands the steely need for order to triumph over chaos. But in the end, he will not – cannot – choose between the eternal opposites. Hands still in his pockets, our hero walks away into the night. He does not look back, and never wanted to.
That man is the Lonesome Rider.
Along with L’air du Desert Marocain, Lonesome Rider is the second fragrance from the line that has appealed to my imagination and managed to conjure vivid imagery. From a couple of wearings I have found that Lonesome Rider is a good quality composition that avoids many of the excesses of some of its predecessors. It is fascinating to me because it departs a bit from Tauer’s usual style and yet retains his avant-garde approach.
Sadly, while the opening is unique and evocative to my nose, the base does not appeal to my particular taste. The base is a woody-spicy dry thing that is formless and reminiscent of other fragrances in its genre. As it dries down, after a fascinating opening and mid of a few hours, it sort of plods along, no rush at all, eventually fading into obscurity. Even this feels intentional. Performance is middle of the road in all categories. Longevity, projection and sillage all seem moderate.
But many will ask: Is Lonesome Rider wearable as a personal fragrance? Unlike many that I have tried from the Tauer line, I think this fragrance could be worn casually, and without a specific occasion or setting in mind. Despite its smoky/leathery character and its hint of plastic/rubber (which in my experience is not always pleasant to passersby), in small doses it would be pleasant and I don’t think it would offend. On the other hand, does a fragrance really need to be wearable? If it is not, does that detract from its value?
More importantly, what does it mean to be an artist and a perfumer at the same time? I don’t quite know the answer, but from having experienced this fragrance, I think I am beginning to understand how Tauer might answer that question. Art is not just about creating beautiful trinkets. Art seeks to persuade as much as inform, to seduce as much as to adorn; as George Orwell famously said, “all art is propaganda”. As an art, perfumery ought not merely be about the promiscuous trade of olfactory baubles. It must be more than that, and Lonesome Rider is a step in the right direction.
“Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth.”
– Theodore Adorno