When I was in graduate school, I drove cross-country with one of my roommates from Georgia to California. We picked up I-10 and drove west. Of the 2400 miles of the highway a third of them are in Texas. There was a time when it felt like we would never get out of the state. This was especially true once we left San Antonio behind. There were small towns and truck stops dotting the West Texas landscape. It was high summer in the desert. When we would stop to stretch our legs there was a scent to this part of the world. The access roads were lined by wooden telephone poles soaked in creosote. The dry winds always carried the sharp smell. There was also the scent of the green vegetation that grew and a bit of the flowers that thrived in this environment. DS & Durga Sweet Do Nothing reminds me of all this.
David Seth Moltz
This is the second Texas inspired fragrance from independent perfumer David Seth Moltz. Six years ago he was inspired by the city of Marfa in creating El Cosmico. It was a relentlessly dry woody style impregnated with creosote. It was monolithic. With Sweet Do Nothing it seems as if he is giving it another attempt.
The biggest difference this time is the telephone pole is part of a more complex landscape. Mr. Moltz doesn’t even get to it first. He opens with an accord built around neroli and orange blossom. The green piece of neroli finds some vegetal partners. The orange blossom is made creamier through fig. Incense evokes the dryness of the West Texas air.
It is now where the creosote comes in. Creosote has a smoky terpenic scent profile. It is sharp. It can also be unpleasant. Mr. Moltz finds a place for it to thrive among the green and florals. Cedar rises in prominence over the later stages as if the late afternoon heat is washing things out. This time when it is just the creosote and cedar it feels like a completed journey.
Sweet Do Nothing has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is an interesting contrast to El Cosmico. I enjoyed it much more than the strident predecessor. Sweet Do Nothing seems as vast as the plains of West Texas.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
My version of summer camp was setting sail with one of my best friend’s family through the Caribbean. I had one of those infantile witty jokes I used to camouflage my ignorance of geography. I would call the islands we docked at Saint Somewhere. One of the great things of this life was Buddy and I would untie our bikes from the hold and go explore our new environment. Through that St. Somewhere became a real place. My ignorance would evaporate through experience. One of the consistent crops on a lot of these islands was sugar cane. I learned if I hacked a small piece off there was a sweet juice inside to quench my thirst. There was also a sticky green scent which remained on my hands. DS & Durga St. Vetyver reminds me of it.
Vetiver is also another significant crop on some of the islands. That was something I was only to identify as an adult once I started learning about perfume. Perfumer David Seth Moltz leads into his use of a specific source of vetiver through his own exploration of St. Somewhere.
David Seth (l.) and Kavi Ahuja Moltz
It opens with the bright sunshine of orange and the fresh green of grass. Baie rose uses its fruity and herbal sides to stitch the top accord together. Then we head out into the cane fields. Sugarcane grows in tall stalks which is harvested by cutting it down. Inside the stalk is the natural source of sugar. It is sweet but it is also green. Mr. Moltz finds that balance. This is not an overdosed sickly sweet but an unrefined version akin to an uncut gem. There is also a hint of the dark soil sugar cane grows in with some clove adding to the heart. So many of the cane fields are adjacent to a rum distillery there was always a scent of that overhanging the fields where that was so. An aged Haitian vetiver along with a rum accord forms the base accord. The older vetiver has a less acerbic green and a softer woodiness. The rum accord does not soak everything in a boozy glow. Instead it hangs above it all like the steam from the rum distilleries. Once all together this forms a compelling story of this part of the world.
St. Vetyver has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Even though it isn’t identified as such St. Vetyver feels like the island counterpart to last year’s Jazmin Yucatan. DS & Durga have, I think unintentionally made a set of perfumes which capture the Americas via twilight in Mexico or afternoon in the cane fields. Maybe we need morning in South America to complete a trilogy. This is as good as it gets for vetiver perfumes. The balance of the sweetness of sugar cane and the different type of that in the rum accord bring the vetiver alive. If you’re yearning to be on a Caribbean island let St. Vetyver be your destination.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by DS & Durga.
I have always been fascinated by the ancient indigenous cultures of North America. I have spent a lot of travel visiting the ancient sites. This includes the numerous Mayan locales in the Yucatan peninsula. When I was in the country traveling around during the 1986 World Cup, I ended up visiting a cenote with some of the other soccer fans I had met. A cenote is a pool of water surrounded by limestone. They often have a deep coloration to them. Most often blue but the one we were visiting was emerald green. We had gone late on a summer day. While I was waiting for the others who had driven us out, twilight was falling. The jasmine was beginning to perfume the air. It was one of those perfect memories of leaning against a post breathing in the heady flowers and the watery pool just beneath them. D.S. & Durga Jazmin Yucatan took me back there.
David Seth (l.) and Kavi Ahuja Moltz
Kavi Ahuja and David Seth Moltz have also seemingly traveled to something similar. In the press release they mentioned this fragrance was inspired by their travels through Mexico. It came about as fashion brand Opening Ceremony asked them to produce a perfume to celebrate the brand’s “Year of Mexico”. To anyone who has spent some time walking through the jungles of Mexico I think Jazmin Yucatan will strum some chords of scent memory.
It opens with that sense of humidity that exists in the tropics. The air is saturated with water which finds a full-spectrum jasmine. This is an indole-laden jasmine. It is what you smell when you find the real thing. Mr. Moltz then adds two modulating ingredients which work well. First a layer of passionflower takes the floral component of jasmine and gives it some more oomph. Clove finds a spicy harmony with the indoles. What this captures is that slightly piquant scent of the earthy jungle floor. The humidity also turns waterier as the surface of the cenote becomes more present. The base accord captures the ever-present vegetation through vetiver and some other green notes. The final piece is copal resin as if a hint of an ancient Mayan ritual at the edge of the pool is breaking through.
Jazmin Yucatan has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is a beautifully realized perfume of a jasmine in the tropical jungle. It is also different enough from most other jasmine perfumes that if you are a fan it is worth checking out. I adore it because it captures a cherished memory of twilight at the cenote.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by DS & Durga.
I’ve been open about my disdain for layering. If a perfume isn’t good enough to stand on its own it isn’t good. If it needs to have something else sprayed over the top of it, that exposes the flaws in the original composition. It is why I’ve never reviewed a “layering kit” because it seems like brand laziness. The last couple of years have seen a new version of this where a perfume is designed to be a companion piece to any other perfume. My objections to that are the same as above. Which is why when I received the press release in advance of a sample of D.S. & Durga Crystal Pistil I was dismayed.
David Seth Moltz (l.) and Kavi Ahuja Moltz
The brand owned by married couple by Kavi Ahuja Moltz (Durga) and David Seth Moltz (D.S.) is one of the most eclectic collections I know of. They have run the gamut from very odd to crowd pleaser. In all of them Mr. Moltz has approached his perfumes with a quirky aplomb. That is why when I read Crystal Pistil was meant to be a perfume to add to other perfumes, I was disappointed. I should have remembered Mr. Moltz has a different way of seeing that kind of endeavor. The best thing about Crystal Pistil once I had it in my hands is, I guess it can be layered. What I found was a gorgeously transparent perfume which stood all on its own.
My initial impression was a strong reminder of the Florida Water I grew up with in S. Florida. Mr. Moltz uses a very light amount of orange blossom which he keeps from floating away by pairing it with baie rose. The herbal aspects of that keep the orange blossom from dissipating. This leaves it out there for an equally airy jasmine to join it. Paradisone is used to give a powerful jasmine effect at the same time it is kept light. This is surprisingly balanced especially with an ingredient as portent as Paradisone. Based on the press release this is where I expected this to end. There was a surprise waiting with a slightly less opaque animalic base. Using Civettone, ambrette, and white musks, an expansive deep musk accord floats at just a slightly heavier level than the orange blossom and jasmine.
Crystal Pistil has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
For those of you who layer I’m happy if you find a perfume this works with. It would be like chocolate sauce from a bottle on top of an elegant souffle for me. This is such an exercise in delicacy I wouldn’t want anything to diminish that. Crystal Pistil is more than good enough to be admired for what it is.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by DS & Durga.
Tuberose is a wild beast of a fragrance ingredient. It can be so untamed with its overwhelming nature that many perfumers must go to great lengths to rein it in so it can be used without becoming too much. There is another technique in direct opposition to trying to tame it; jump on its back and try to ride it. That is what the new D.S. & Durga Durga does.
You might think the perfume is named after the nickname perfumer David Seth Moltz has given to his wife Kavi Moltz and which makes up the brand name with his first two initials. It turns out that this is instead more literal as they design a fragrance inspired by the Hindu Goddess Durga. She is a multi-limbed warrior goddess depicted riding on the back of a tiger brandishing a weapon form each of her multiple hands. Her keynote victory is over the Buffalo Demon. How this translates to the perfume bearing her name is that Mr. Moltz uses two fabulous sources of tuberose to which he piles on with most of the opulent floral materials in perfumery.
David Seth Moltz and Kavi Moltz
Mr. Moltz uses green tuberose as his opening note. Over the last couple of years, I have enjoyed seeing what different perfumers do with this version of tuberose where there is a more prominent green quality as well as making the camphoraceous heart of tuberose also stand out. The choice he makes to modulate this is a melon note in all its intense fruitiness. It is not an intuitive choice but it is one which I really took to and this is from someone who can find melon irritating. From here Mr. Moltz starts adding one floral note after the other. It starts with chrysanthemum freshening things up. Orange blossom takes the freshness and brings it back to white flower territory. A high percentage irone orris butter runs the danger of perhaps gilding the tuberose but it doesn’t. Ylang-ylang turns this creamy and lush. Then when most perfumers would try and cage the tiger Mr. Moltz drenches the base in tuberose absolute paired with jasmine sambac. This is a basso profundo finish as these two huge white flowers strut their indolic nature. Mr. Moltz accentuates the skanky quality with musk added in for that purpose.
Durga has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
Outside of the melon, which works here, this is a collection of most of my favorite floral motes. Mr. Moltz does an impressive job at keeping all of this roaring at full speed but never flying off a cliff. If you are a fan of the white flower powerhouse perfumes Durga is a contemporary interpretation which succeeds by being unafraid to allow the tiger that is tuberose the opportunity to range freely.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.
As a boy we had a weekend place at the end of Key Largo. It was where my love of the ocean was kindled as I would spend days swimming in it; water skiing on top of it; and diving deep beneath it. After a day of being out on the water I would go spend the evening out on the dock with my transistor radio. Pointing the antenna across the Gulf of Mexico I would cautiously turn the AM dial searching for a signal. The radio was held close to one ear as my fingers feathered the controls until a voice would leap out of the speakers. I was connected to another part of the country. For as long as the signal lasted I got a peek into another city. Through those nights on the dock I listened to the goings on in Corpus Christi and Galveston, TX; Biloxi, MS; New Orleans, LA and courtesy of their huge signal St Louis, MO’s KMOX. As the radio would heat up there was a pleasant smell of hot metal and electronics which was surrounded by the smell of the night blooming flowers and the ocean lapping the pilings under the dock. I hadn’t thought of those nights in a long time until I received my samples of the newest D.S. & Durga perfumes. Radio Bombay reminded me of the smell of that transistor radio. Rose Atlantic brought me back to those flower-filled nights above the ocean.
David Seth Moltz and Kavi Ahuja Moltz
David Seth Moltz describes Radio Bombay as a “deconstructed sandalwood”. It is a sandalwood which is decayed like those faraway signals I was listening for into something less than its ideal self. It is an interesting idea when a perfumer chooses to find notes which chip away at the familiar in a way so that other aspects become more prominent.
Right in the very early moments of Radio Bombay you get the most pristine version of sandalwood. Over the next few hours that sandalwood will be changed by the other notes. Early on it is competing with a balsamic mixture pushing down the sweeter, creamier aspects in favor of the sharply woody ones. Next comes this metallic accord which Mr. Moltz calls copper but I would describe as warm undefined metal. It is that moment when my radio got very warm to my touch. Boronia adds a bit of the heated electronic vibe while also chiseling away at the sandalwood a little more. Iris powders things while cedar tries to reclaim the woodiness. At the very end the signal is lost into the ether until the next time I tune in.
Rose Atlantic is those moments in the night when I would look deep into the black water only to have the flowers scenting the air to ground me. Mr. Moltz uses some wonderful ingenuity in constructing his accord to represent the Atlantic. Many of the typical components are here but one, muscone, seals the deal. He has added enough that it provides that deep dark water accord the weight it deserves. On top of that water floats linden leaves, rose, lemon, and grass. It is an airy floral entwined with the green of the grass and linden leaves. A bit of moss later on provides a final thread of green. After the radio was shut off I would still sit on the dock enjoying the signal right in front of me; until the next night.
Radio Bombay has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage. Rose Atlantic has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Along with these two scents there was a third White Peacock Lily which is also quite good. All of these were meant to debut the new packaging designed by Kavi Ahuja Moltz.
I know someone will ask if I layered the two to see if I could create a personal “Key Largo Signal”. I did and it didn’t work that well, there was a lot of static. As I learned so long ago once you find a clear signal stick with it for as long as it lasts. Radio Bombay and Rose Atlantic are rich signals to find while searching in the night.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by DS & Durga.