Coasting on the runaway success of qüan vie nnâ sigue eÿe, more commonly known in Buck-Tickistan as Eau de Buc-Tique, Acchan-sama And His Band have upped their toilette game with the release of The Mortal, more commonly know in Buck-Tickistani as This Mortal Fragrance, or Eau de Mortalité.
In the Fish Tank newsletter last year, Mr. Sakurai all but stated outright that he was the one who rendered the final aesthetic judgments on Eau de Buc-Tique - and no wonder, given that Pisceans are reputed to be unusually sensitive to the sense of smell. Whether or not that's true of Pisceans in general, it's surely true of Mr. Sakurai - if you don't believe me, just take a look at the number of references to scents in his lyrics. "Smell" is just the beginning! With Eau de Buc-Tique, Mr. Sakurai demonstrated that he's got a fine nose for perfumery, so it only made sense for him to broaden his olfactory repertoire by trying again this year, and since with The Mortal, he's the one calling all the shots, this time, he's free to sink as deep as he likes in the luxurious black mud of gothic decadence, with a new scent aimed squarely at the sad, jaded, and elegant gothic lady, dressed to the six-nines in mouldy frills.
Eau de Mortalité offers a far deeper and more sensual experience than Eau de Buc-Tique, starting with the packaging. While Eau de Buc-Tique stayed mod and minimalist with a classic, simple box design and pillar-shaped bottle, Eau de Mortalité isn't afraid of going a little over the top, as dedicated goths are wont to do now and again (or, let's face it, all the time.) Eau de Mortalité comes hidden inside a silky black cardboard coffin printed with different pictures on each side. The front features an oval cameo version of the poster from the PV set, with Mr. Sakurai holding up the skull in front of his face - you can't get more obvious than this, but you also can't get more honest, and the lovely composition and lighting of the image make it compelling rather than depressing - points for the homage to Victorian remember-me mourning lockets. The back of the box features a grayscale closeup of the skull with some blurred patterns reminiscent of the backdrop effects on the live tour...more on this in my forthcoming live report. The sides of the box feature the band's logo surmounted by a skull. You can't get more goth than this, and since that was the point of this whole Mortal project to begin with, this packaging easily earns full marks from us.
The Eau de Mortalité bottle itself is also silky, shiny black, with pleasantly rounded corners that give it a softer, more alluring appearance and feel than the sharp-edged frosted glass of the Eau de Buc-Tique bottle. The Eau de Buc-Tique bottle fit right in with Buck-Tick's Anarchy-era theme of Constructivist geometry, but Eau de Mortalité begs you to run your fingers over its gentle curves as you ponder the sweetness and pain of your brief passionate life - though mind you don't leave fingerprints, as the finish of this bottle is as shiny as a mirror (then again it's a perfect place to catch the fingerprints of your beloved, if you feel so inclined.) The sensuality of the bottle continues with the nozzle, which is finished in shiny gold that glows invitingly through the crystal clear cap like that dream you just woke from. Truly, this perfume just gets better the deeper into it you go (that's what he said!)
On the front, the bottle features the band logo in white letters, surmounted by a skull and five lily of the valley blossoms, one for each band member. For those of you who were curious about the reasoning behind the fact that lilies of the valley appear throughout The Mortal's visuals: in the Victorian flower language, lily of the valley means "return of happiness." It was a symbol of both the Virgin Mary and of Jesus Christ, and is still commonly included in wedding bouquets in both France and England - most recently, Kate Middleton held a bouquet of lily of the valley blossoms during her wedding to Prince William. It is also said that when Mary cried after the death of Jesus, her tears turned into lilies of the valley, which is why the flower is also sometimes called "Virgin's Tears" - a nice allusion to the mother imagery that runs throughout the I Am Mortal album. The flower also appears in the line from the Song of Solomon, "I am the rose of sharon and the lily of the valley" - and for those of you not familiar with the Song of Songs, it's just about the smuttiest smut that ever did grace a religious text. Then take the following quite from the Christian bible:
"And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
In plain English: lilies don't need to wear clothes, so why should you? The deeper we go into the symbology of this flower, the more appropriate it comes to seem...and it's also worth noting that lily of the valley leaves and berries are poisonous and if you eat enough of them, you will die.
Anyhow, back to Eau de Mortalité. Though the choice of name was obvious, given the number of Shakespeare references embedded in The Mortal's work to date, we prefer to believe that the name was inspired in part by the following quote from Shakespeare's tragedy "King Lear":
GLOUCESTER: O, let me kiss that hand!
LEAR: Let me wipe it first. It smells of mortality.
We know that all y'all fangirls would kiss those Acchan-hands no matter what they smelled of (and frankly, that's just gross, y'all) but if you get Eau de Mortalité on your hands, they're sure to be three times as kissable! Though one might guess that a fragrance with such a funerary name might smell of roses, wet earth, swirling mists and cold salt tears, from first blush, Eau de Mortalité is nothing of the kind - and neither does it smell like lily of the valley, though that would be lovely in its own way.
Instead, rather than smelling like the graves of the nearly and dearly departed, Eau de Mortalité smells like all those things you think about when you pour your hot blood over your candles and pray at night: thick, velvety, and sexy as hell. After the initial alcohol vapor vanishes like a ghost, a spicy head of jasmine and pikake rises up out of a mist of vanilla musk, but it only lingers for a brief time - perhaps an hour, at most. As the scent settles, it flits through a subtle sweet incense phase before settling into full-on rich vanilla which spreads out and then turns darker by the hour.
Depending on your biochemistry, you may find Eau de Mortalité heavier and longer-lasting than Eau de Buc-Tique - when we tried it for ourselves we noticed that though it appears to vanish after a few hours, the base note has a tendency to sink into the pores and return again later after a shower or a good sweat - Eau de Mortalité's undead! By the time this happens, the vanilla has developed shades of sweet tobacco, like the inside of an old cigar. Probably not the scent of choice for the average person, but after a long night spent swooping about the city, drinking blood and having sexy fun times with your candelabrum, it can be wonderful to retire into your coffin at dawn and find that the scent is still caught on you like the shadow of love. In fact, you may even still smell it in the folds of your cape the next evening, and we say, so much the better!
Eau de Mortalité is not a particularly original or innovative scent, but it doesn't need to be - it's classic. Though the copy on the band's website describes it as fruity, don't be fooled - this perfume is no fruit and in its early stages it has some serious throw. Eau de Buc-Tique works well for daily freshening up, but Eau de Mortalité, as might be expected, is a night fragrance. So if you're going to wear it out during the day, make damn sure you wear black, kids. This perfume is no hipster, it's a vamp: thirft-store granny dresses and Uniqlo puffer jackets need not apply! And if you're wearing this fragrance and you're a man, we expect you to show up with freshly done eyeliner.
In short: we love it. But if you say "Siouxsie who?" when we say Siouxsie Sioux, you should probably skip it. In fact, you probably should have skipped the entire Mortal tour. Go goth or go home!
Live report coming soon.