steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"Goldensmell" CDR


Genres: ambient, experimental electronic

Jan 10 - 16 2005

According to the Christöphilax website:

"goldensmell is a radical seven-part olfactory intervention in which christöphilax's senses begin to take leave of him. in the closing months of 2004, christöphilax suffered a further setback, a crushing blow that would be unbearable for lesser cultural artisans: a traumatic injury to his olfactor, resulting in the permanent loss of his ability to smell ... goldensmell is a touching homage to odour and to the powers of olfaction. goldensmell recreates, in the aural medium, the olfactory experience of some of the defining popular music events of the common era -- some originally attended by christöphilax, others imagined."

An interesting start to an interesting record.  Goldensmell may not exude smells from your stereo speakers, but it sure tries its best to experiment with Christöphilax's take on the olfactory experience.  The first piece, "goldensmellone," sets the stage immediately - the sound is glitchy and ambient, reminding the listener of Farmers Manual and Coil; apparently the piece is meant to revisit a 1968 Blue Cheer concert, heavily draped in the odour of weed and patchouli.  Where the Blue Cheer/ambient connection comes from is beyond me, but the composition is, regardless, a relaxingly atmospheric experience.  

The other pieces follow in a similar ambient vein, although the overall texture and mood is adjusted for each of Christöphilax's olfactory influences.  "goldensmellthree" is particularly interesting - its lush, calmed tunefulness is intended as a tribute to the "brown note," which (as any South Park fan will be able to tell you) is a specially-developed low-frequency tone capable of causing involuntary defecation.  This piece doesn't really remind me of the odour of leaking bowels, but it serves as a beautiful sonic experience nonetheless.

Meanwhile "goldensmellfour" mixes things up by introducing a Moroder-style rhythm to the mix, while "goldensmellfive" exploits creepy audio sample and "goldensmellsix" (a bizarre tribute to John Cage's 4'33") manages to be tuneful and eerie.  As the album progresses, it seems to become more and more accessible, adopting concepts from Eno and even Orbital ("goldensmellseven" reminds me of the intro to "Halcyon & On & On").

What makes Goldensmell especially interesting is its low, low cost - if you're willing to scoot your anus to Christöphilax's website and shoot him an email, the philax himself is ready to send a copy of the release (as well as any of his others) for the reasonable sum of zero dollars.  And for a record as consistently wondrous and atmospheric as this one, that's an especially appealing bargain.  For ambient music that dares to be tuneful and accessible, Goldensmell is one you can't afford to skip over.


Fun Fact: "Chrysophylax" is a person-eating dragon in one of J.R.R. Tolkien's obscure fantasy novellas, Farmer Giles of Ham.

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 8 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2005]