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time for new toys

Well, ok, I haven't reviewed -- or even tested -- all the imps I have (though I've smelled them all), but I'm ordering a new set.   My SO and I went to a wood-working store with lots of exotics, and after following his nose to a stack of Spanish cedar, commented that any perfume that contained that would drive him wild.   Alrighty! Ysabel, here I come. His comment is probably the only thing that could convince me to try a perfume with rose other than Les Infortunes.   I'm also getting:   Lampades Ulalume Black Opal Wrath Yggdrasil   Can't wait!

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Untangling The Threads

I have enough imps -- and plan on getting enough more -- that I should really start figuring out what works for me and what doesn't. I've learned that some things I like to smell don't necessarily work well on my skin (no surprise), and so far, nothing I dislike actually works on me (again, no surprise). Other conclusions follow. (This is an entry that I will be coming back to and modifying over the years.)   avoid these elements: Dragon's Blood   elements which may work very well for me, but which I need to try in other combinations before I'm sure: wax   look for these elements specifically: tobacco leather   these may or may not be deal-breakers in that they're scents I like (or don't dislike) but that amp to a point where they thuggishly take over a scent: amber sandalwood

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Centzon Totochtin

The Four Hundred divine rabbits of the Aztec pantheon that preside over parties and drunkenness. Bittersweet Mexican cocoa with rum, red wine, and a scent redolent of sacrificial blood.


in the bottle: Rum! And a scent that I know must be cocoa, but that seems more like a toasted sweet nut. Actually, it reminds me strongly of Nutella. There's something a bit sharp running behind which I can't pin down at this point. There's also a sense of unpleasantly over-the-top (sort of sickly) sweetness, like rancid fruit.

on wet: Nutella. 100%.

drydown: The Nutella has faded into a slightly food-y, cozy, very comfortably enveloping scent, which strikes me as the scent equivalent of being wrapped in your favorite blanket on a cool autumn evening. Wow, that's pretty evocative; I'm surprising myself a little. I'm getting a warm, headshop-y undertone which I think is some sort of musk, though that's not listed.

one hour later: I'll be going to bed with this on, so I'll have to start this review over another day to get the full day's worth of critique. G'night.

end of day:

compared to official description:

notes:

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Lightning

The electric tang of ozone, marine notes, and a drop of sharp rain.


in the bottle: When I first smelled this, it smelled exactly like chapstick. Now, months later, it smells exactly (with no deviation) like an air freshener (can't remember brand) called Spring Rain. I don't like the scent. Not even a little. This is going straight to the trade pile. I know I should make an attempt to analyze it -- a scent is a scent -- but I'm too distracted by what I consider to be an overwhelmingly common commercial scent. I'm not feeling very generous today, I suppose.

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Dirty

A wonderful antidote to an all-nighter oozing with drunken, addled perversion and debauchery. A fresh, crisp white linen scent: perfectly clean, perfectly breezy.


in the bottle: Okay, I have to say it: dryer sheets. It makes me think of fabric softener or dryer sheets; it's what warm, clean clothes used to smell like straight out of the dryer before I started using unscented laundry products. Floral, but it's that light, breezy, not-obnoxiously-floral floral that definitely puts one in mind of clean laundry. As a matter of fact, I'm having trouble moving past the laundry connotations as some part of my brain is now reminding me insistently that I'm behind on laundry and need to start working on that NOW!

I can't pick apart the notes. All I can really think is floral. Actually, this puts me in mind of a kind of jasmine. Or maybe orange blossom. A little sharp. This could give me a headache, I think.

on wet: Exactly the same.

drydown: More rounded now, not so stabbing-me-repeatedly-with-flowers. Actually, even more like laundry products now than before.

one hour later: I'm not interested in leaving this on for an hour.

end of day: Definitely not interested in leaving it on all day.

compared to official description: It really does have a "clean" feeling, but I know that's because of the whole "mmmm... fresh, clean laundry" connection. Psychologically, there's nothing quite like pulling warm clothes out of the dryer and draping them on yourself -- for me it's an instant mood lifter. Not because of the smell, but because of the feeling of clean. It's an enduring emotional scent connection for me. This is a great scent for someone who wants to give themselves an instant hit of "fresh and clean".

notes: To be frank, I stopped using scented detergents and dryer sheets (never used fabric softener) because I grew weary of the types of scents that are used for that category of product. It's interesting to see the connection between this scent and those things, but I in no way want to smell like this myself.

added to forum reviews

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Dracul

Black musk, tobacco, fir, balsam of peru, cumin, bitter clove, crushed mint, and orange blossom.
re-sniffed on 6/24/10

in the bottle: Amazingly, I pick out most of the listed scents. This is uncommon, but it might be because the components are uncommonly strong and distinctive. Tobacco. A warm spice: clove. Something musky. A wood. A kind of catch-in-my-throat dryness; don't know where that's coming from. I will admit that I smell something that reminds me strongly of some kind of alcohol, but it hovers somewhere -- strangely -- between red wine and whiskey, even though neither is listed. Second try: Now I don't smell anything remotely like alcohol, rather it's all about wood and very strong clove. Really, this is predominantly clove.

on wet: A little floral. Tobacco.

drydown: The floral has gone creamy in a vanilla-smooth kind of way. What I'm smelling now, at a slight distance, just 2 minutes later, is nothing like what I smelled in the bottle. If I put my nose right on my wrist and inhale deeply, I get the clove and tobacco, but they're ghosts. OK, clove and wood, in that order. There are definitely other scents in the background, but they're almost "transparent".

one hour later: The scent is dominated by clove, with a deep, dark undertone which is almost impossible to focus on -- I know it's there, affecting my response, but it's almost subliminal. I'm going to say it's the musk and tobacco working together, but that's purely a guess; I can't, in all honesty, smell musk and tobacco.

before too long: I can barely smell anything on myself. I suspect that the scent is just as strong (if my SO walked in right now I'm sure he'd notice the scent immediately) but my nose has become immune to it. That's disheartening. I wear perfume primarily for its effect on me. Maybe today isn't a good day to be testing. I'll probably have to revisit this one yet again.

end of day:

compared to official description: I've never, to my knowledge, smelled Balsam of Peru, though it seems from my research that it's a fairly common component in scents, so it'd probably be more truthful to say that if I've smelled it before, I wouldn't have know that was what I was smelling. Second time around, I detected no floral notes in this. I'm pretty happy that I didn't pick the cumin scent out of this. I like cumin as a culinary addition, but I always notice it at the top of every spice mix, so I need very little to get the full effect. It so easily could have been overkill, but I don't smell it at all in this oil. What I do smell strongly is the clove, which is fine; I like clove so much I've even been known to chew the plain dried cloves like candy.

notes: I started this a little too late in the day to do a full review. I'll have to come back to it. This is pretty close to gender neutral to my nose. Having said that: It's hard to tell when it's just me wearing it, but I suspect that I would find this drop-dead, oh-my-god-take-me-now sexy on the right man.

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Perversion

Smoky rum and black tobacco with a whisper of steamy leather with a splash of crystalline chardonnay, layered over a sensual, sweet, and deceptively magnetic base of tonka.


in the bottle: When I first got this imp (with 15 others) and did a "speed-smell", I commented that I couldn't pick anything distinct out of it, but that it smelled familiar to me one end to the other. Well, here I am months later trying it for real, and I find myself in the same position. In the bottle I get a melange of scent that seems sweet almost to the point of cloying, but not in a food-y kind of way, more like a sweet liquor (which I despise, almost without exception). Not good as a start, But I'll run with it and see where it takes me.

on wet: Again, overpowering sweet liquour. Not good.

drydown: Here we go with the different scents on different wrists. My left wrist smells faintly powdery and a little mildewed, my right wrist smells like fancy pipe tobacco. Bizarre.

Now on my right wrist, after a few minutes, and at a distance, I smell something powdery and sweetish, but with my nose touching my wrist, I get leathery and tobacco-y with a faintly dusty-sweet base. At the same time, testing my left wrist, I get a warm vanilla-leather smell, with the vanilla dominant. My nose wants more leather, less vanilla.

one hour later: Left wrist vanilla/leather. Right wrist vanilla/tobacco. I actually like it at this stage. The initial bottle scent and everything before about 15 minutes on was nauseating, but now I get a mellow, old-world, retire-to-the-smoking-room-and-discuss-serious-things kind of scent, but not overwhelmingly so. My SO commented that he could smell the tobacco when he walked into the room, but to my nose it doesn't appear to have much throw. I have to stick my nose right next to my wrists to get anything.

end of day: Faint, mellow, vanilla-like tobacco and leather.

compared to official description: I don't get chardonnay, though a hint of that with the rum (and tonka) probably gave me my ack! mixed drinks! reaction (I'm a straight bourbon kind of girl, myself.) I'm sure the tonka is what had me thinking vanilla.

notes: The leather and tobacco ended up standing out in this one, which is what I've been looking for all along. Given the stomach-turning reaction I first had, I'm amazed that I ended up liking this one as much as I do. This is the complete opposite of most of the ones that seemed promising to me. I'll definitely be keeping this one, but it will never, ever, come anywhere near my locket. This one requires tempering on my skin to reach it's true potential (at least as far as my scent preferences are concerned).

added to forum reviews

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Dragon's Milk

Dragon's blood resin and honeyed vanilla.

Okay, after an embarrassing absence, I'm back to fulfill my obligations as a BPALer.

in the bottle: I haven't researched to see what Dragon's Blood is, but I've learned to associate it with a strangely mellow/spicy/sweet scent that resides somewhere near the intersection of amber, cinnamon and almond -- at least to my nose. This is that, with a kind of creamy, smooth undertone.

on wet: Exactly the same as in the bottle.

drydown: The sweetish component (almond-y) and the creamy component have come to the fore. I get the amber-like scent too, which (as amber always does) reminds me of soap.

one hour later: This has mellowed out to a lighter version of what I smelled in the bottle, which is interesting to me; this is the first BPAL fragrance I've smelled that is, on me, exactly what it seems to be initially -- all the rest change, many dramatically.

end of day: Light, sweetish, mellow, creamy, hint of spice.

compared to official description: The creamy/smooth component has to be the vanilla, but it doesn't stand out to me as vanilla; perhaps that has something to do with the "honeyed" component. [Edit: In the end the vanilla did stand out. I'm not sure this is a vanilla that I'm fond of -- a little too ... I don't know. I can't really describe what it it that I don't like about it.]

notes: I would call this scent "not me", or at least atypical of scents I like, but there's something about it that appeals to me. Jury's out. I'll have to try it again later.

added to forum reviews

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so I ordered a scent locket

[she says, casually] and it arrived. And it's a beauty -- the phoenix design. And I should mention that I got no less than 6 frimps with it. And they even sent one that's on my list of ones to try. Here's what I got:   Lilium Inter Spinas Czernobog Thanatopsis The Last Squished Jellybean Tenochtitlan Dragon's Milk   I've already speed-sniffed through all of them, and the one that stood out most positively was Dragon's Milk. Tenochtitlan had an instant, really unpleasant, old, dried sweat undertone. The rest I'll have to spend more time with.  

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The Apothecary

Tea leaf with three mosses, green grass, a medley of herbal notes, and a drop of ginger and fig.

in the bottle: Tea and herbs. Nice, actually. I'm hoping the tea scent lasts longer for me in this than in Embalming Fluid.

on wet: Mostly tea. The herbs have gone.

drydown: This is interesting. The tea no longer stands out enough to distinguish; instead I'm getting a well-meshed clean scent that reminds me of having just stepped out of a shower after using a nice, expensive, french-milled herbal soap. It doesn't smell soapy, just clean. Seriously -- clean. If I had to define the scent of clean skin with a scented oil, this would be exactly it.

one hour later: Still clean, though there's some light sweetness asserting itself. I don't think it's a particular component (or maybe it is -- perhaps the fig?), but rather the sum of the whole. The whole thing is very light in a way which makes me think it might not last the day.

end of day: Still here. The herbal effect went away and left me with a sort of light, sweet tea thing. Not sweet tea as in sugar added, but more like a cup of non-tannic, delicate tea with ... or, near ... it's really hard to describe. Just ... sweet. And light.

compared to official description: I didn't really get the ginger, which is a shame. I'm thinking now that the fig contributed to the sense of sweetness, but I never once thought "Oh, that's fig!"

notes: The final result was a tad too sweet for me. I like how light it was, though. This might be a good one for the locket.

added to forum reviews

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No. 93 Engine

Balm of Gilead, benzoin, frankincense, balsam of peru, beeswax, saffron, galbanum, calamus, hyssop, mastic, lemon balm, and white sage.

in the bottle: Smoky and sharp, resinous, metallic. I can smell beeswax and something reminiscent of Vicks VapoRub (not a bad thing). The rest of the scents are strong and completely meshed -- I can't pull them apart. An assertive scent. Masculine. I like.

on wet: Metallic Vicks, with strong, skin-like warmth underneath. The sharpness has faded, and my impression is now of a more gender-neutral scent. Definitely strong resinous undertones -- makes me think of sticky, hardened sap.

drydown: The Vicks has moved to the back, leaving me with a lovely warm scent which is, unfortunately, going a bit incense-y. I'm guessing the frankincense is asserting itself. Less than an hour later: Frankincense and other components have combined in exactly such a way as to make this scent a hybrid of headshop and candle store. I not like.

one hour later: Straight incense. I'm going to wash this off. I really don't like strong incense smells, not even in a room scent. Other oils have given me different impressions when tried again later, so I'll give this one another shot on another day.

end of day: Didn't make it.

compared to official description: There are a lot of components to this oil that I'm not familiar with. I have to rely on general impressions only, because I can't say "the calamus stood out" or "the balsam of Peru supported the rest", since I'm not familiar with those scents (or half the ones listed, actually). I got wax, frankincense, benzoin (the Vicks smell), something like warm skin, and a melange of indescribable scents that fused into a strong, sharp, warm, pleasant whole in the bottle, but that went almost pure incense on my skin.

notes: This one would definitely work in a locket. I'm not tempted to get a bottle, but I'll keep the imp.

added to forum reviews

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Les Infortunes de la Vertu

A pain-tinged, pleasure-soaked blend of leather, oakmoss, orange blossom, amber, and rose with a breath of virginal French florals and a hint of austere monastic penitential incense.

in the bottle: This is the first leather-based scent in which I smell the leather right off the bat. I like. Leather, amber, incense. Comforting. Calming. Sensual. I can say with utter certainty that I long to be surrounded by this scent. Whether it works on me remains to be seen.

on wet: Still leather, amber, and incense. No hint of florals.

drydown: I'm already losing the leather and going to almost straight amber with a hint of incense. I'm starting to think that I need to research oils without amber, as I seem to amp it to the point of no return. I don't dislike the scent of amber, I just don't want it to be the only thing I smell, and on me, amber doesn't play well with others. Though I usually really dislike florals, the almost one-note-ness of the amber now makes me long for the scent of florals just to break it up.

one hour later: I washed my hands a couple of times for food prep and lost most of the scent, so I reapplied. On second application I get the leather more strongly immediately after application. After the second drydown I'm still smelling mostly amber, but I have to admit that, although my nose isn't pulling scents out that I can identify, there's definitely more to this than amber. The primal part of my brain, the part that has no use for words, is feeling comforted, safe, and amped -- aware, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I feel like I'm wrapped warmly in the arms of a strong man, listening to his quickened heartbeat. Flippin' amazing. Beth, I worship you.

end of day: The most sensual phase of this oil only lasts about ten or fifteen minutes on my skin. I like it overall, definitely. I really like it in the bottle and absolutely love it for the first ten minutes on my skin. I have to declare this a winner, but I'm going to have to try it simultaneously on and in a locket to get the full effect, I think.

compared to official description: I don't pick up any of the florals, which is probably a blessing. I definitely think they're there, but only evident in the in-the-bottle stage, where they add to the whole without standing out. That's really amazing to me, as florals always seem to go straight to the top of the heap when I'm wearing them, whereas here they fade completely out. I was very afraid to try an oil with rose listed, as I've had rose-based scents go cloying (and rotting) on me before, but ... this oil can do no wrong.

notes: I should add that this seemed masculine to me at every stage, but that only increases my enjoyment. It makes me want.

added to forum reviews

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scents destined for a locket

No. 93 Engine
Darkness -- actually, I've already decided that it works on my skin, but I like the out-of-the-imp scent better
Embalming Fluid
La Petit Mort
The Antikythera Mechanism
Velvet

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Shub-niggurath

The lust incense of a corrupted Astarte. A blend of ritual herbs and dark resins, shot through with three gingers and aphrodisiacal spices.

in the bottle: Dried baking spices, heavy on the ginger, with a musty, cloying, almost rotted smell, like not-quite-fully-decomposed mulch.

on wet: Ginger, ginger, ginger, spices, dirt.

drydown: Cinnamon red-hots, ginger, dirt.

one hour later: Cinnamon red-hots, ginger.

end of day: Didn't make it.

compared to official description: I'm guessing the combination of dark resins and ritual herbs gave me the composted plantlife smell. I don't know which spices are considered aphrodisiacal, but nothing in here did a damn thing for me. I got a strong cinnamon component later (not like dried cinnamon powder, but more like cinnamon extract), and I can see someone arguing that cinnamon is an aphrodisiac. Again, not so much.

notes: To my scent aesthetic, this is ugly, if a scent could be called that. Not unpleasant, off-putting, unappealing or unapproachable, just ... ugly.

Understand while you're reading this that that statement is not meant as a hit on Beth's skill. I'm an artist, and I know what it's like to have people love, shrug at, and seriously dislike your work. I know the pain of planning, testing, refining, and slaving over an idea, pouring too much of yourself into it, then getting ... well ... stepped on. Beth, I have no reason to believe that you'll ever read my blog, but if you do, please understand that I completely admire what you've done for yourself, and I respect your courage and efforts. You know from reading other people's responses that you've given a great deal of pleasure to many. I can only describe my experiences the way I experience them. Please don't take it too much to heart.

added to forum reviews

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Mary Read

Salt air, ocean mist, aged patchouli, sarsaparilla, watered-down rum, leather-tinged musk, and a spray of gunpowder.

in the bottle: Boozy and sweet; rum and sarsaparilla. An undertone of something sharp. Bizarrely, this reminds me strongly of Velvet, Centzon Totochtin, and Dracul -- yeah, all three.

on wet: Sweet, a little boozy.

drydown: Sweet warmth with a touch of creamy soap. The soap makes me think of an old soap-on-a-rope my dad got as a gift when I was a child but never used (left hanging, untouched, on the shower head to scent the whole bathroom for about 10 years). Maybe the patchouli? The warmth has a kind of spiciness to it, otherwise, it's almost impossible to describe. Just, warm. This ... this almost smells like warm skin to me. Wow. Could this be my first brush with a skin-only-better scent? But there's a hint of something sharp and a little off-putting. Damn, damn, damn. So close.

one hour later: I'm getting a warm, clean scent, like nice laundry detergent and fresh air; a "hanging the laundry on a warm summer morning" kind of scent. It's not a bad thing, but I miss the boozy-ness.

end of day: Same as "one hour later" assessment.

compared to official description: It's hard to tell what's going on here. The leather, musk, and/or gunpowder may be conveying the warmth, but I can't pick any of them out of the mix so it's difficult to determine how they're contributing. Or maybe the gunpowder was the unpleasant sharpness (that seems unlikely as I like the smell of burned gunpowder). I'm not familiar with aquatics in general, so maybe it's the "salt air" and "ocean mist" that were off-putting to me.

notes: This is a really tough scent for me to pick apart; most of it I like very much, but it has an element that I find disagreeable right up to the point where all the elements I really like morph completely, at which point the off-scent fades too, but I'm left with fresh air and laundry detergent. Bummer.

added to forum reviews

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The Antikythera Mechanism

Bronze gears spin inside a polished wooden case, and an entire universe dances within. Teakwood, oak, black vanilla, and tobacco.

(second review)

Round 2: I tried this again, and all my initial impressions are there, but it didn't go right to powder this time; instead, it just faded out completely. Still not ideal, but better than a baby's butt. I still have a sense of wood, vanilla, and something oddly cocoa-y (which, with more concentration, I can now say is definitely the tobacco). I do like this one. Medium like, not omg-gotta-have-a-gallon like.

Seems like I said this somewhere else in this blog, but I really think that the ones that go to powder do so over clean, dry skin -- meaning little body oil and no lotion. I have several lotions and they're all fragrance-free, so I have no excuse not to layer oils over lotion, and I'm wondering if that's the only way to get a real sense of what these oils are like (at least on my skin). I have to believe that it would make a difference. Having said that, I also have to believe that there would be just as much a difference between the scent produced over skin softened by my own body oil as opposed to skin softened by lotion. One is full of, well, I don't know how to put it, but the essence of me, essentially. The other is just a barrier and a carrier. Really didn't mean to rhyme that.

It's sort of a moot point, as I've reached an age where oil production has slowed and I have dry skin most of the time. So, lotion it is.

in the bottle: Dry wood and vanilla -- a very warm, smooth, non-sweet, non-foody vanilla. Luscious. I want to pour it over my head, let it run over my whole body, then drink the last dregs. Yum!

on wet: The vanilla really stands out now. It has changed to something that reminds me of dry cocoa, but still definitely not sweet. Something in this is modifying the vanilla and giving it a powdery effect.

drydown: Powder, faintly vanilla-y. This has gone from "yum" to "after-bath powder" in ten minutes flat. I can see how this might work on someone else, but unless this does some kind of miracle morph, I think the experiment's over.

one hour later: After an hour of powder, I decided to force the issue. I layered "No. 93 Engine" over the top. Now that five minutes has gone by, I can say with certainty that this move was a mistake. Something about the combination smells almost rancid, and all the nice warm notes have gone all jumbled and icky. Oof. Time to scrub.

end of day: Didn't make it.

compared to official description: I wasn't picking up the tobacco outright, but I'm sure it was modifying the whole. I think I'd prefer to pick out the tobacco as a separate and distinct scent.

notes: I'm really disappointed -- not in the scent, but in my skin's reaction to it. I had high hopes for this when I smelled it in the bottle.

added to forum reviews

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Embalming Fluid

A light, pure scent: white musk, green tea, aloe and lemon.

in the bottle: Nice. Iced tea with lemons.

on wet: Lemon.

drydown: Lemon. There's an undertone of something that's probably the aloe (unless there are ingredients not listed).

one hour later: Lemon.

end of day: Gone.

compared to official description: I'm not sure how much the white musk contributes. I'd have to smell it as a single-note to determine where it fits into the whole.The green tea is definitely there, at least initially. But the lemon: my, my. Move over, lemon is here.

notes: Stayed very close to my skin and didn't last for more than a few hours. Barely a whiff after even an hour. The tea (and everything but the lemon) faded after application. Oddly, when I left the room and came back, I picked up a ghost of a tea smell where I had been, but I could never smell it on me (only lemon).

I actually like it, but the almost one-note lemon had me thinking of furniture polish before too long. It's probably a fine balance on others, but I seem to have blown the lemon out of proportion. Nice idea, but ... maybe a good room scent.

added to forum reviews

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Holy Christmas, Batman!

I received no less than sixteens imps today. I'm speechless with the possibilities. In addition to the twelve I ordered, I got (of course) four unsolicited extras. Not one of the four sounds even remotely like anything I would consider getting for myself. Heavy on flowers, and one described outright as sweet. Still, I've said before that I welcome the boundary-pushing. That attitude will certainly be tested this time.   No reviews yet, but after sniffing through way too many in one sitting (I know, bad!), here are my impressions:   Embalming Fluid: tea with several slices of lemon. I like.   The Antykythera Mechanism: Something sharp, then my sense of smell was blown completely out. Couldn't smell anything for several minutes. Too early to say.   No. 93 Engine: Something faintly metallic and catch-in-throat (acrid). Seems more masculine than not, but maybe because of some wood (?) that I associate strongly with men's scents. Too early to say.   Lightning: This reminds me very strongly of chapstick. Hm.   Mary Read: Strong booziness, spice, something -- again -- acrid. I like, I think.   The Apothecary: Herbs. More herbs. Interesting.   Shub-niggurath: ??? Baked figs and holiday spices over dirt? What the hell??? I think smelling all the ones before must be messing with me.   Dracul: Clove and fresh, clean skin over something musty?   BTW, I have no idea if my descriptions are even remotely like what these scents are supposed to smell like. It's been too long since I read the descriptions and I'm overloading my olfactory system. Just, humor me. I'm sure I'll be embarrassed later.   Centzon Totochtin: Yikes! Cocoa over booze with a hint of ... Hawaiian Punch?   Perversion: This baffles me. It smells familiar one end to the other, but I can't pick anything out or come up with an association. Dunno.   Dragon's Hide: Instant men's cologne. Very in-your-face wood (???) scent. Seems almost single-note to me.   Les Infortunes de la Vertu: Another super-blended one (i.e. hard to pick anything out). Overall, I like. Very comforting scent.   Ava Maria Gratia Plena: White floral with strong scent-associations of cleanliness. Doesn't smell soapy, just ... blindingly clean, if that makes any sense.   Hairy Toad Lily: Astringent berry? My nose is really going downhill.   The Reaper and the Flowers: Some very light floral and grass? Hay? Very, very light. Delicate.   Queen of Hearts: Holy blown gaskets! My eyes started to water. Fruity, floral, in that order. I'm going to say "Not me", but I'll give it a more through assessment later.   There's my initial run-through. Completely useless because I overwhelmed my sense of smell, but I couldn't resist. I mostly wanted to pick out the ones that seemed most promising so I know where to start.

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Strangler Fig

Rooty, woody, with deep green tones.

in the bottle: Thickly sweet with a green undertone. The sweetness reminds me of root beer.

on wet: Still sweet and thick. Mostly just sweet. The green note has disappeared.

drydown: Still sweet. A touch of powderiness.

one hour later: I really want to wash this off. There's a heady sensation that makes me think of walking into a too warm, enclosed space where there's a lot of greenery, like an orchid hothouse. I'm not saying it smells like orchids, just that I get a sensation of a scent that might be enjoyable if smelled faintly blowing on a breeze, but which is too much, almost claustrophobic, on. Makes me want to throw open the windows.

end of day: Didn't make it to the end of the day. Washed off.

compared to official description: I don't know what rooty smells like, unless you're referring to spices; though I did get a sense of rootbeerishness, so maybe there's a sassafras-like element here. Woody? I'm sure there's an element of that here, but it doesn't stand out. Mostly I get a powdery sweetish green. Heated, heady, thick.

notes: This had throw on me, in the worst possible way. Take that with a grain of salt: If it were a scent I enjoyed, I might not mind the throw so much (though I don't like throw in general).

Lagniappe. Definitely not one I would have thought of choosing myself. The dice didn't roll so well on this one.

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Hell's Belle

Sweet, smoky and sensually wicked. A thick, steamy scent, truly sinister in its voluptuous sexuality. The perfume of a demon's favored consort, or of the devil herself. Oleander with wet, sweet mandarin, lush magnolia, a rush of deep musk and a touch of spice.

in the bottle: Fruity and musky, with a background of some warm spice, like cinnamon or clove.

on wet: Musky floral. Puts me in mind of something like Opium or Poison. I'm not saying the scent is similar, but that it gives me a similar feel. I liked it better in the bottle.

drydown: A minute later and the scent is already back to fruity, or at least, it has gotten significantly sweeter but not in a bad way. This really reminds me of Poison. My current impression is that I like it, but ... hmmm. I'd call it sexy, but almost too in-your-face sexy, which is definitely nothing like me. I don't think that anyone who knows me would call me sexy, not even sensual, more ... reserved. Granted, part of the allure of perfume is stepping outside one's own skin for a short time, but this is too much like wearing someone else's clothes.

one hour later: Cloying. I don't think the scent has changed, more like my nose is overwhelmed, saturated. This really isn't for me. I won't be aging this one to see if it morphs.

end of day: Never made it. Had to wash it off after an hour or so. This scent was literally exhausting to me. It wore out my nose, wore down my mood, and left me feeling ragged and tired.

compared to official description: "Thick" is a good word for this: It almost literally weighed down my wrists. At the very least, it weighed me down -- made me lethargic right to my core.

I've never smelled a scented magnolia blossom, so don't know how to pick that out of the mix. I'm sure I've never smelled oleander straight either. I just looked up oleander, and assuming it's Nerium oleander, it's supposed to be an exceptionally toxic plant, which I find interesting. I wonder if Beth picks scents for their historic or mythic character as well as the actual scent. Probably. Almost certainly, I think.

notes: Heady. Not for the timid or restrained. This one needs a big personality and a desire to disturb the serenity of nearby males. Definitely not me.

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Zephyr

A gentle white scent, breezes laced with the scent of springtime blooms and citrus. Lemon, lemon verbena, neroli, white musk, white florals, white sandalwood, China musk, bergamot and a drop of vanilla.

in the bottle: Perfume. This is the first BPAL scent I've smelled that immediately put me in mind of traditional perfume. Feminine. Floral. Strong sandalwood, but without the sense of dryness I usually get. I definitely smell lemon verbena and a strong but light musky component. Bergamot -- one of my favorite scents. I'm a bit put off by the overall perfume-y-ness of it, but I'll give it a go.

on wet: Immediately, the sandalwood and musk are dominant; all the other scents drop away completely.

drydown: Sandalwood and vanilla. A really nice vanilla. I don't know if this is a special type of vanilla or if it's just being affected by the surrounding components, but it's a dry, non-sweet vanilla which I like very much. Oddly, the sandalwood is already not as strong, which is counter to my past experiences with sandalwood (where it usually becomes the dominant -- if not only -- component throughout the scent life of the oil or perfume). No hint of bergamot left. :love!:

one hour later: Okay, still a perfume-y perfume, but not offensive. I'm getting a whiff now of the neroli (one of the few floral scents in real life that doesn't give me a headache). Also, this is the first one I've tried that has throw. That sort of makes me want to wash my wrists, but I'll tough it out.

end of day: Light floral.

compared to official description: Simplistically, the throw on this one does make me think of breezes, especially the type that waft the warm scent of Philadelphus blossoms across the yard (nice match to the description since, for us, Philadelphus blooms in late spring, so ... spring breezes). If "white scent" is supposed to mean light and non-heady, again accurate. I would've thought that sandalwood would immediately make a scent not light, but I see that it's described as "white sandalwood." I'm not sure what that means, but it's clearly a completely different scent than the one I'm used to.

notes: Lagniappe. Not one I would have thought to try because of the floral component. I'm glad the lab throws these in because I do allow myself to be dissuaded by a description. This forces me to take a chance, for better or worse.

It's a very pretty but light floral. Very much a perfume. I can see the appeal if you like this sort of thing. Overall, it isn't me. It leaves me feeling fragile and withdrawn -- not sensations that I enjoy.

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imp order and frustration

My recent experience with La Petit Mort (actually, I'm still experiencing it) has me back in the old "I can't wear perfume" mindset. I've resolved to order a dozen imps instead of just six, consisting of those scents I consider the most promising from my own research, plus a few taken willy-nilly out of the favorites of a few people who seem to have the same scent preferences as me.   Today I'm ordering (as imps):   Shub-Niggurath Embalming Fluid Dracul No. 93 Engine Antikythera Mechanism Centzon Totochtin Perversion The Apothecary Dragon's Hide Mary Read Les Infortunes De La Vertu Lightning   Let's see if I have more luck with any of these.

Graphica

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La Petit Mort

Seduction, sensuality, the Act, and the aftermath all in one. The scent of warm, damp skin flushed with the glow of passion, touched by the luxuriant potency of ylang ylang and myrrh.

in the bottle: Something a little fake and plastic-y. A blast of sweet almond. Musk, not overpowering. Overtones of ... ? I don't know. Something that puts me in mind of just-dried sweat. Not unpleasant. Maybe the initial musk (or a second musk).

on wet: Plastic and almond with overtones of musk and powder. The fresh sweat smell is gone. So far, this is staying remarkably close to my skin.

drydown: Powdery musk. Something a little resinous and/or smoky. Powdery, mostly. Some catch-in-the-throat smokiness coming through, but just barely.

one hour later: Powder, dammit! Why do so many things end up smelling like powder on me?

end of day: I've tried this oil twice now and haven't made it to the end of the day with it. What I mean is, I lose interest, forget about it, then end up remembering a few days later that I never did my final assessment. I wanted to like this, so it bothers me a little to say this: it fails to make an impression. Quite literally. Can't say it's good or bad. Just ... meh.

compared to official description: No idea what ylang-ylang smells like. See "notes after notes" at the end of this review.

notes: Oddly, the cap of the imp (on the inside) smells overpoweringly of plastic and almond. The liquid in the vial is more fresh sweat and musk. I'm guessing some separation happened, but I can't seem to get it recombined. I think there's too little space in the vial to get a good shaking action going. I'll stand the vial on its head for a week or so to see if that makes a difference. [edited to add: I did this. Made a little bit of difference, but there's still a sense of separation.]

notes after notes: If there are moments that deserve to be immortalized with paint, music, or scented oils, they are the ones where words fail. "Seduction, sensuality, the Act, and the aftermath" would definitely be one of those moments. I admire Beth's courage in trying to capture the moment in scent, but I have trouble imagining how you would even go about that. After all, no one wants to smell, literally, like they just had sex. So what then? "Warm, damp skin flushed with the glow of passion." Whose skin? I won't argue that you can't smell someone's desire on their skin, you definitely can. But it's not a particular scent, it's the difference (in anyone's skin) between normal and flushed, dry and damp, blood running normally or hormones raging. This is a different scent on different people. It's each of us, individually enhanced with the heat and chemicals of lust.

I'm not saying that the moment isn't full of wonderful scents: musky, salty, earthy. I can see trying to turn these into a scented oil, but I suspect that Beth is hamstrung in this effort (to a certain degree) by avoiding true animal musks. Maybe what's being attempted here is enhancement of skin -- any skin -- with scents that deepen the inherent skin-ness of each of us. Are we similar enough for this to be successful? I doubt it. There are threads full of people who find a "skin only better" scent for themselves, only for someone else to say it "smells like burned plastic" on them.

What's being captured here then? A feeling? How do you capture the electric ache of being close ... so close ... but not quite touching? With night-blooming florals? And the shuddery first brush of skin on skin; is that myrrh? What about being pulled tight to your lover and feeling the evidence of their desire? How about almost not being able to breathe, anticipating the moment when you'll feel them inside you? Is that ylang-ylang? My point is, we're talking about a series of events which are too tied to the deepest part of yourself, too complex in potential sensations and emotions, for translation, for distillation into a bottle. What defines the essence of breathless, aching sexual need? Almonds?

I know I'm being too literal, but the experience is going to be very different, not just from person to person, but sexual moment to sexual moment, even between the same people. What is a perfume designed to capture the essence of desire and fulfillment going to be like, really? Sometimes the moment is slow and warm; sometimes it's light and sweet. Then there's frantic, heady, overheated, and on and on. Just the idea of these different feelings, different ways in which the moment can play out, puts me in mind of different scents (different music, different colors, different textures, etc.).

If I'm going to be too nit-picky and literal, I may as well take it a step further and talk about the name. La petit mort isn't "seduction, sensuality, the Act, and the aftermath all in one," it's really only the aftermath; or rather, the climax. Can that be a perfume? So, the oil represents a sensation then? A sensation of pleasure? Of release?

I'm not being argumentative, truly. Though you could say I'm taking it a bit too seriously. I'll accept that. Granted, it's just scented oil. And marketing. I guess I went into this with a certain amount of doubt. I'm coming out of it with a feeling (a lot like certainty) that the only creative expression that could potentially do the moment justice is music. But that's another, um, essay.

Again, I think it's great that Beth is attempting these things. At worst, she'll produce some wonderful oils that give people a great deal of pleasure. At best, for someone, this may put them in mind of a lovely moment.

None of this will prevent me from trying other oils with similar themes, like O, Wanda, Perversion, etc. I'm certain I'll find one that, if not exactly putting me in the moment, will at least put me in the mood.

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allow me to restate

I decided to amend my thoughts from my previous post. The whole "no better than a walking room freshener" bit was harsh. I understand the other side of putting out a particular image (the projecting side, as opposed to the being-projected-upon side). I can't speak for everyone, but I know that we women will, on some occasions, choose our clothes, makeup, hair color, etc. because there's a facet of ourselves that we want to nurture and make prominent. We all have some aspect of bad girl, ingenue, sophisticate, tomboy, fighter, animal, sex toy, etc. And yes, sometimes we want, or need, to focus on that part of ourselves -- to bring it to the fore. Choosing a perfume that announces who (or what) you are is a convenient way to do that. So, yeah, while I sometimes resent being forced to view someone in a certain way based on the temporary choices they've made with their physical appearance or grooming enhancements, that's how the game is played. You are who you appear to be until you've decided that you want to know someone better, then you let them in and you are who you are. Rant neutralized.   And my apologies to those who prefer perfume with a lot of throw. While I may not necessarily want to get anywhere near you, I've known your scent to sometimes brighten a room, change the atmosphere, or set a mood.   Elevators are quite another thing.

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Graphica

 

scent is a strange thing -- 2

Another scent dislike -- an odd one, perhaps, for someone on this site -- is strong perfumes, no matter their components. By strong I mean something with a lot of throw. Perfume, to me, is something you should pick up when you're close to someone. Maybe it's the romantic in me, but I think of it as something that should make you want to lean in and and take a deep breath. If it's swirling around you at ten paces from the source, it's irritating and pointless. People with strong perfume are no better than walking room fresheners. And why would you ever want to stand close to someone with a wall of scent around them? Actually, "wall" strikes me as a good word; a person loaded with perfume has a built-in defensive perimeter of scent. It isn't inviting, it's prickly and thick, like a rank of shields and spears.   I think my preference here is because I'm very aware of how much of my feelings for people are affected by scent. This may be something from the survival-based category, as I seem to rely a great deal on my sense of smell to really get a feel for people. Unfair or not, how someone smells can weigh heavily in my judgment.   We may be talking about pheromones here, as well as grooming scents. An example: I've known many people that make my whiskers stand up, for better or worse, before I've seen or heard anything from them that should give me a strong opinion. (BTW, I'm not a fan of simplistic application of the word 'instinct' -- instinct is merely the functioning of our five natural senses at a threshhold below conscious recognition. It isn't magic, it's just some part of us that resists being affected by the frontal lobe.) I know a few people that are pleasant, well-liked, and easy to get along with but that raise my hackles. Pheromones? Psychological? I don't know why it would be the latter. There are people that I really want to like, but for no apparent reason can't summon anything better than mild dislike for. If that isn't bad chemistry (quite literally), I don't know what it is. Well, and let's be honest: Conversely, I've known people that were absolutely no good, but that I was instantly comfortable around. People that were definitely not companion material, but that gave me an almost instant feeling of kinship, or ... well ... desire.   I know there are plenty of psychiatrists out there that would argue that every bit of that is software, and that it feeds a need for rebellion, or that it's hardware and feeds a need for adrenalin-pumping danger, etc., but that doesn't explain instant attraction to someone who's perfectly suitable as a companion, and yeah, I have those moments too. As an aside, I fully believe that we don't know enough about how our brains function to be able to properly distinguish between impulses that are software-driven, hardware-driven, or both.   I genuinely believe that some part of my olfactory-system-to-primitive-brain process can detect and make me understand when I'm too alike or too unlike some people (in all the wrong ways) at a basic, genetic level. It seems farfetched when stated "out loud" like that, but I'm not claiming to be any different than anyone else. I think we humans have many potentially strong, primitive subconscious interactions with our environment that have, for many people, gone rusty with disuse (or with being ignored). So what am I saying? Can we subconsciously detect when we're a good "chemical" (i.e. genetic) match, sexually? What about when we're judging a person of the same sex? (Speaking, obviously, from a heterosexual point of view.) Are we able to subconsciously understand that someone is very different from, or similar to, us in makeup, and do we then become more or less comfortable with them because they're "of our clan" or "other"? Did human senses ever allow our species to correctly judge such things, and do they still? Is it all written in our pheromones?   Another example: I know a few men that I don't particularly like or dislike, but that make my skin tingle when they're close. Seen at a distance: nothing. Sound of their voices: nothing. Thoughts of: not the least bit inappropriate. Close up: strong, unreasoning response with a deep desire to get close to their bare skin. What is that if not pheromones? I can't actually smell anything, but I'm responding from head to toes to someone that I'm otherwise completely uninterested in.   As far as grooming scents, I've never had a chance to research it, but there are men's scents that instantly leave me feeling mellow and ... pliable. I've never gotten that straight from a bottle of cologne, but warmed on the skin of a few men, it's hypnotic. My significant other is a good example of both: Freshly showered and without added scent, when I'm against his skin I feel like I want to just cling to him, breathing deeply, and stay that way forever. With cologne, I want to nibble every inch of him. With hot skin and a fresh, light layer of sweat ... oh. my. god.   Pheromones. Definitely.   Sorry. Wandered off track there. Ahem. So ... my point being: When I'm talking to someone and all I can smell is a thick layer of perfume (or cologne), I'm irritated by it in the same way I would be if that person required me to converse with them blindfolded. I feel like I'm being manipulated. It's as if they're projecting who they want to be, forcing me to have a specific impression of them, instead of just letting me get to know them. They may as well be wearing a costume, or talking with a fake accent. Ugh. It wrecks my sense of who they are and makes me uncomfortable. I literally feel like one of my senses has been stripped away. Deliberately. And as innocuous as the perfume wearer's intentions are, I end up resenting the olfactory masking.

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