Sleep Thoughts

So last night I think I had a dream that involved making a sandwich and getting yelled at because it was too big. I didn’t think it was though. Why would people hate on a sandwich?

Montale Attar

I’m gonna be honest, I won’t be wearing this one again. Had the same oud opening as Black Aoud, just a touch sweeter, and for the next 4 or 5 hours after that I had a headache from the stuff. Then it changed into this sweet figgy fruity thing and more or less faded away. Won’t be revisiting it. Probably the shortest review you’ll ever see me do.

The Prophet Ice Cube

Today was a good day.

Okay no that’s all I’ve got in relation to Ice Cube. Today just went about as well as I could ever hope for a day to go. Woke up with no pain or stiffness in my ankle, got out of bed refreshed and sat in front of the new 32″ monitor (the computer hasn’t acted up in almost a week now), some Brian Eno playing as the creative juices stirred and I found myself completely caught up on my reviewing. Well, so I say, I’ve still got a bit over 30 reviews to go but I’m caught up in the niche experiment.

I’ve been in the process of trying to move up within the Office Depot company; it’s been unsuccessful but not for lack of effort. I’m currently in what’s considered a Level 1 position, and the next step up is (surprise) Level 2. One of the major conditions for working at the store I’m at currently is that I would be able to be promoted to this Level 2 position fairly quickly. Sure enough, about a month into my tenure there a spot opened up. I was told, yup, we’re all set, just gotta key you in for it. Fast forward to a week later. Nothing. Fast forward. Nothing, it never happened. The position simply isn’t there now, they chose not to fill it at all.

That wouldn’t have bothered me too much except that I was continually being led to believe that I was getting this position. If you’re not gonna do it, tell me you’re not gonna do it. Combine that with the fact that the manager in question is not what I consider a model leader (I’m wording this carefully), and it becomes pretty clear what my course of action was when I saw another Level 2 spot open up in another store in Louisville.

Turns out it’s just a bit further out, and the staff there is arguably the most highly respected in the city. Their store manager has a tremendous reputation with every manager I’ve talked to, and one of their department managers and I used to work together back at the Paducah store.

I visited the store for the first time today, it is about 5 miles further but the roads and traffic are such that the time difference is negligible. It’s also easily the nicest looking store I’ve ever been to, pictured above. Talked to the managers and everything went fantastic, I think I made a good first impression. Decided to leave and let them discuss it, went home and cooked lunch, gave them a call back around 3:30.

Here’s the situation in a nutshell. My current manager has the opportunity to match this new store’s offer; that is, either I get the promotion and raise here, or get it there. It’s entirely up to my current manager. If he realizes my worth he’ll keep me but I don’t think he does. In all truth I’d be happier at the new store so no great lost, I take a great deal of pleasure in proving people wrong about me.

Something about today’s given me a much-needed spark that’d been starting to fade. I’m more upbeat about tomorrow, confident in what I need to do and really just a hell of a lot happier than I was a week ago. Now I can only hope that everything goes as expected.

Wish me luck.

Cereus No. 7 – BFFs

In my initial ratings just smelling the vials, my commentary on Cereus No. 7 was “I got a big old whiff of Green Irish Tweed right off the bat.” I was so confident today that I’d hit on something that I skipped the solo wearing and wore it side-by-side with the Creed offering. Today’s an important day too, I’m in the middle of possibly making a job change and wore the fragrances in hopes of putting my best foot forward with my possible new boss.

More news on the job hunt to come but let me say that as rarely as I make correct predictions…I was spot on with the comparison to GIT. Before the Creed fanbois start sending me hate mail, read on.

Cereus No. 7 starts out with a very familiar soapy opening, the same one I smelled just off of the dipper from the vial. Surface appearances, however, are only a little bit of what No. 7 offers. It takes a little while for No. 7 and Green Irish Tweed to start differentiating, about an hour. While Green Irish Tweed stays fairly linear, Cereus No. 7 adds a pepper note that, in my opinion, does wonders for the masculinity of the fragrance. Let’s face it, GIT is a linear soap-inspired scent evoking cleanliness and a gentle demeanor. Cereus No. 7 is a more roguish creature; while GIT might be the well-to-do businessman on the black-tie date, Cereus No. 7 is the well-dressed young romeo with an adventurous side. It’s more contemporary, it’s just slightly dirty and it does a fantastic job of setting itself apart from Green Irish Tweed by a minor adjustment that appeals to a whole different clientele.

There’s another issue, one I make frequent mention of on here and that’s price. As niche goes, Cereus is very reasonably priced. You can get a 75mL bottle for $125 which, if I recall correctly, is better than what you’ll expect to pay for Creed in a retail environment. What’s better, when I placed the order from Luckyscent for the 1mL sample I got a little bit larger vial, for the same price.

I was very careful in buying my bottle of Green Irish Tweed. While I own a 120mL bottle, I bought it used and there’s at best 30 or 40mL left. I didn’t pay terribly much for it either. Cereus No. 7 is, to me, preferable to Green Irish Tweed. This was the first time in the niche experiment that I went in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. Sample worthy and, if you like good clean fun with just a hint of a wild side, bottle worthy.

Méchant Loup – Unafraid

Wrapping up the L’Artisan reviews today with Méchant Loup, French for Bad Wolf (think like the Big Bad Wolf). Reviews for this one have always been promising, hazelnut and honey on smoky incense. The nose is Bertrand Duchafour, who I’m starting to respect more and more as a gifted artist. The nut and honey are again reminiscent of another creation of his, Jubilation XXV. However, that’s the extent of the similarities. One thing that doesn’t seem to get touched on with this fragrance is the fact that it has a clean side too, the smell of camphorous leaves is faint but detectable and provides a good contrast to the dark, “dirty” tones of smoke, honey and leather.

In many respects it’s quite excellent, it’s a quality composition, it doesn’t take a very refined nose to appreciate it, and sillage is quite good. The only issue with it is longevity, which is to say it was just average. In niche perfumery I would call that a major transgression as everything else I’ve tried thus far has lasted and lasted. I got about 6 hours with it which is my personal dividing line; I’m not very likely at all to purchase a fragrance that doesn’t at least last that long (the Hermessence comes to mind immediately).

Out of the niche fragrances I’ve tried thus far this would be one of the best ones. L’Artisan has plenty of offerings though, and they cover the whole spectrum, so it’s looking promising for future experiments with this house.

A Taste of Heaven – How Much Is Too Much?

I was amazed it took so long for the random number generator to land on one of the By Kilian fragrances; after all a full quarter of them were Kilian Hennessey creations (Straight to Heaven and Cruel Intentions reviews forthcoming), so A Taste of Heaven gets it’s turn in the barrel today.

The opening blast is sweet, and I say that in the “sugary loaded wtf” sense moreso than the “super amazing awesome” sense. It’s probably the sweetest fragrance I’ve ever encountered, knocking off such contenders as A*Men, The One for Men, Ambré Narguile, Rochas Man, Blue Sugar, anything I can think of this thing has beat. The main player is cinnamon, to the point that I was instantly reminded of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch I used to eat as a kid. While I’m wearing this in 95 degree weather it should be absolutely godawful stifling, but it managed to toe the line and be bearable even when exercising.

There is a redeeming quality to it, one that I can’t readily identify but there is a masculine tinge to it that saves it from being too effeminate. It’s actually rather pleasant in a sweet tooth sort of way.

I could see this as being useful for a party situation, where you want to project that sort of thing on unsuspecting girls but that’s about it. It’s really sweet and I don’t know it I can recommend it as anything other than an excellent example of a sugary-sweet gourmand. It’s loud, it’s sweet to the point of being over the top, and it’s a bona fide sillage monster. I personally won’t be buying a bottle, it’s pleasant but not outstanding enough to justify the price tag. $245 for a 50mL bottle? No thanks, I’d take the outstanding Herméssence Ambré Narguile far sooner which is more tastefully done to me.

Hinoki – The Forest And The Trees

I think it’s safe to say that no new release this year has been more hyped on Basenotes than the collaborative effort between Comme des Garçons and Monocle, known as Scent One: Hinoki. The project has been lauded as a huge success, and the next project with Stephen Jones is on the way, the nose being Antoine Maisondieu, who created Hinoki along with several Burberry fragrances like the excellent Burberry London.

Hinoki is a japanese cypress, and that is of course a major part of the composition, though other woods such as pine and cedar make appearances as well. The opening blast is similar to what you’d find in a woods-heavy fragrance such as Gucci Pour Homme, but only for a moment. It takes on a personality all it’s own, unique from any other woody scent I’ve tried. It gives a mental image of a misty Japanese morning as you walk through the forest, the smell of pine greeting you with it’s distant, therapeutic smell that clings to your skin as the mist collects on you. It does have a “cold” element to it, and I think in the winter this could be a truly phenomenal scent and I absolutely plan on trying it then to see if it balances my mood as well as I think it will.

The scent is fairly linear but when it’s this good that’s hardly a problem. Sillage appears to be good, longevity was great at a bit over 12 hours. My love affair with woody fragrances continues and gets a little pricier with Hinoki, but rest assured that the hype is well worth it.

Montale Black Aoud – Revolution

My main experience with that mysterious wood known as oud, aoud, agarwood, agar, whatever you want to call it, is the unique Yves Saint Laurent offering, M7. M7 was one of the first fragrances I sampled and suffice it to say that it’s an acquired taste. One of the most common analogies is the smell of cherry cough syrup. Pretty damn good analogy really. Robitussin aside M7 really is a pretty good representative of oud, and Montale takes the concept to what can only be described as another plane of existence. Pierre Montale may not make universally loved stuff but it is nearly universally respected and Black Aoud is on top of the heap there.

If you are a fan of the smell of oud, the opening blast may be the best you’ll ever find in a fragrance. If you’re not as big a fan, you may come very close, as I did, to washing the stuff off. It is a mindblowingly realistic recreation, and stays as such for a full hour. No progression, no pretenses, just black oud. The closest thing I can compare it to would be citronella bug spray. Appetizing right?

Now, despite that, my designated smeller said that she really, really liked it. Needless to say I was a little surprised as I was still pretty displeased with my choice of a work fragrance. But we discovered something; it’s great from a distance, but when I invited her to get in close and smell it on my wrist, she agreed that it wasn’t nearly as good. So that’s the rub; it’s a great fragrance with monster sillage, but you may personally not like it.

At least, not at first. After a couple of hours either I began to get acclimated to the smell or, more likely, it progressed, and picked up a sweet background of rose and spicy cedar. As I indicated to the Basenoters on my thread entitled Coming 180 on Black Aoud, it’s at this point that I made a connection to another fragrance, one that will soon be part of my collection. That fragrance would be L’Occitane Notre Flore Cedre. There is a period of several hours where Black Aoud and L’Occitane Cedar are dead ringers for each other. I don’t know whether that speaks greatly about L’Occitane or poorly about Montale.

The longer I wore Black Aoud the more I liked it. This one will make for a very interesting revisit in the winter. Would I buy it? Probably not, it’s $150 for a 50mL bottle and the point I liked the most was when it smelled just like L’Occitane Cedar, which is fairly linear and costs $65 for 100mL. However, I am withholding final judgment for now.

L’air du Désert Marocain – A Tauering Accomplishment

First off I apologize to the readers for having to endure the terrible Andy Tauer pun. I couldn’t help it, and as reparation I will be wearing Acqua di Gio today. Okay, that’s actually a lie, I’m wearing Mechant Loup which will be reviewed tomorrow.

ANYway, L’air du Désert Marocain was one of the fragrances I was most excited about sampling in this experiment, it’s consistently been a favorite among Basenoters and the composition has always sounded top-notch. It is with a smiley face that I can say it didn’t disappoint at all.

The opening blast is dark and mysterious with an incense note dominating along with a somewhat bitter note that might just be tar. As it progresses the incense backs off a little bit and you’re greeted with a sweet frankincense note and the rest of the composition starts coming out of the woodwork. This is one of a very few scents that have conjured up a vision of what the perfumer was going for. The opening is the dark right before dawn, cold and bleak, and as the sun lazily rises and warms the desert sand, the desert starts taking on a life of it’s own. There are exotic spices reminiscent of spice merchants selling their wares, and a warm accord that truly reminded me of hot sand.

Needless to say I’m rather impressed with the creation. It actually reminded me of Jubilation XXV by Amouage when it was at it’s sweetest, they’re apples and oranges though. Given that it’s about a third of the price of the Amouage creation, though, I may find myself enjoying LdDM enough in its own right to spring for a bottle. I will eventually be doing a side-by-side test of these two and will report my findings then.

The bottom line is this is a magnificent creation, one that anyone that sees this as an art owes it to themself to try; I’m certainly wiser for the experience.

As an aside, there’s also a new link to Andy Tauer’s blog in the blogroll.

Tea For Two – I Made A Mess

L’Artisan Parfumeur has a reputation for being daring, innovative, and completely unique. I’d heard enough good about Tea For Two and Mechant Loup (review forthcoming) that I selected both of them for sampling from Luckyscent.

In short, the scent lives up to the name. The opening is smoky and mildly sweet, like tea steeping. In this phase it’s rather interesting, and a somewhat rustic scent in an unusual use of the description. The scent is fairly linear, the base is pleasant and warm, in fact you get that warm vibe all the way through it.

But it still needs to be asked. Do I really want to smell like a hot cup of tea? I don’t drink all that much tea (lazy etc.) but it certainly conjures up those images. That’s not me at all. In fact, when do I wear this? Can’t wear it in a social setting or I’m Buzz Killington.

See?

Jokes aside, it’s unique, it’s warm and inviting, and it’s almost exactly like you made a mess and spilled hot tea on yourself. I respect it for what it is but it’s just not for me.