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Radio Bombay – woody and sultry and exciting

mage by Saliko - Antique radio amateurs exhibition - Florence, Italy, Feb. 2014 - Wikimedia Commons

We had brunch with some very good friends over this past weekend. They live about an hour away, so we don’t see them as often as we’d like, but when we do, it’s always fun. Over mimosas, we caught up on each other’s family news, shared our views on the books we read, documentaries we’d seen and the new restaurants we’d been to. Then, as sometime happens, the conversation drifted to childhood interests and Matthew* told us about his fascination with electronics when he was a teenager. He talked about how he built a transistor radio using a do-it-yourself electronics kit from Heathkit. He spoke about the hours he spent in the workplace he set up in his parents’ basement, mounting the components over a circuit board, and the smell of solder and copper wire. It was a sweet memory to share.

After we parted ways, I thought about Matthew’s reminiscences on the drive home. We know that scent can invoke a memory, but can someone else’s memory invoke a scent? It sure can, because as soon as I got into the house, I made a run for my bottle of Radio Bombay from American indie house D.S. & Durga.

D.S. and Druga was started by husband and wife team David Seth Moltz, a former musician and Kavi Ahuja Moltz, a former architect, in New York in 2007. Mr. Moltz is a self-taught perfumer and for them perfume is about storytelling. Take Radio Bombay for example. The promotion piece inside the box says:

“I am interested in hypothetical scent. Not everything has a strong or readily perceivable aroma, but objects can suggest a fragrance. Light bulbs glow. Electricity courses through their metal filaments. They melt the dust on their surface emitting wisps of heat. The tubes in amplifiers have a certain aroma.

So what if there was a tube amplifier in an old radio made of sandalwood? Than the interaction of the heat would open up the pores of the wood, singing its smooth elegant fragrance…

I imagine the radio sitting in a small hot shop in Bandra – the ‘Brooklyn’ of Bombay (sorry). The heat deconstruct the oils in the wood. Ragas and Geeta Dutt tunes jangle out of its tiny speaker in the busy city.”

Honestly, I can’t vouch for the smell of a warm radio playing in the Brooklyn of Bombay, but Radio Bombay, now, that’s a scent I totally get.

It opens with a rich woody note bolstered by cedarwood. The metallic tang of copper, appears suddenly and disappears quickly on me, like a spark, makes the opening exciting and intriguing. But RB is just getting started. As it warms on my skin, a beautiful, pure note of Mysore sandalwood emerges – soft, sweet, warm, creamy and woody. Iris adds a powdery fell to it that gives the EdP an elegance. Boronia, that shrub native to Australia, has a vivid floral/fruity aroma with hay-like aspects that are shown here. As it moves to the base, I smell sweet, milky coconut and woody, piney balsam, joined by animalic ambergris and I am beyond smitten. Mr. Durga is talking to me and I am listening with my nose.

Mr. Durga says that “Radio Bombay a deconstruction of the Mysore sandal rebuilt from aspects of musky cedar, peach, coconut, lactones, milk” and exactly what it smells like.

The drydown is warm and sultry, elegant and transporting, with a rich woodiness that runs all the way through it, making it gorgeously unisex.

The next time the four of us get together, I’m going to bring my bottle of Radio Bombay and see if it sparks any memories.

Radio Bombay is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

(*names have been changed to protect the guilty – me!)