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BPAL Madness!


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About Balame

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    obsessive precious hoarder

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  • BPAL of the Day
    The Storyteller
  • Favorite Scents
    - Notes - Mhm: Coconut, vanilla, honey, currants, patchouli, tobacco, amber, cocoa, teak, hazelnut, leather, oudh, pomegranate, cream accord, resins, vetiver, ambergris, sandalwood, Egyptian musk, tea (any but black), tonka Godsno: Blood resins, pepper, almond, neroli, violet, lilac, lotus, red musk, jasmine, spearmint, most florals, super sweet candy notes

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    Video games, exercising, fantasy, books, art, plants, cultures/languages, dance, animals, entrepreneurship, instrumental music, pirates, science and BPAL


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  1. Balame

    An Encampment of Shepherds

    Beautiful blend. The best rose I've gotten from BPAL. The type I often smell is usually too heavy, sharp and overwhelming for me. Here it reminds me of gentle rose petals and mixes seamlessly with the tobacco, creating a sticky sweetness that's still somehow pure and light. The tobacco puts me in the mind of BPAL's rich, slightly citrus/caramel-ish French Tobacco, but it's not heavy here. Encampment feels religious somehow, like a rosy incense blend in a temple. It does have a slight mineral dustiness to it from the clay, somewhat reminiscent of the dust in The Mountebank or Aziraphale. It's not a funky, musty note but like a light, sun-warmed light layer of dust that gathers atop a stone pillar or old book. Comforting. I can't pick out the tonka or oudh individually here, but I would say they're contributing to the incense-like atmosphere with more resinous and vanillic attributes. Really, galahad got it spot-on with the first post. Soft dusty rose tobacco (with a touch of minerals). It feels warm, sensual and sacred. For those, like me, who are tobacco lovers and feel this might not be anything new, I'd say give it a go anyway. Encampment feels both familiar and exotic, making me think of an ancient temple half crumbled in the midst of desert sands.
  2. Balame

    Il Matto

    Oh yeah, this sandalwood is fabulous. Very reminiscent of The Coiled Serpent. I know people mostly get patchouli in that one, but for me it also seemed to be present there. Reminds me of Djed as well, with its sandalwood/sage combo. Dry, sweet and smoky resins, a sparse scattering of herbs and the chewy citrus spark of frankincense. Absolutely a desert-centric blend. It smells like a secret ritual performed by a bonfire amid the sands. Warm, mysterious, sacred, powerful. The tobacco shows itself after about ten minutes, providing a glowing richness. I've always liked scents that evoke the desert but haven't found many I absolutely love from BPAL. This is scratching that itch. Despite the strong formulation, I don't actually find Il Matto as heavy as some of my other incense blends, making this a solid choice for daily wear.
  3. Balame

    The Mountebank

    What an exceptional lavender blend. This is very sexy and somewhat foody to me, even though there aren't any gourmand notes listed. Smells like lavender, boozy vanilla, dark chocolate and dirty ambery rosin. There really is a "dusty" feel to it as well, as if The Mountebank has been on the road for a few days and still has a vague amalgamation of market spices, old books and tavern smoke about him. This is more roguish than Rogue to me, with its sultry sweetness hiding something sharp and glinting. A kiss or a sting? Is this dalliance worth the danger? YES. The Mountebank thrums and soothes and seduces. It's a smirk, a gloved hand against bare skin, a knife sheathed in leather. The intoxicating night that you never want to end. Another very unique, standout offering from The Magician series, and another I need a bottle of.
  4. Balame

    The Harlequin

    The Divine Comedian, the Eternal Jester, instructing through pranks and buffoonery: vetiver-steeped raspberry and red currant. Tart and sweet raspberry juice supported by... peanut butter! It's not actually as foody as that sounds, but something in here is playing games with my nose. Must be the vetiver. Thankfully this effect burns off pretty quickly. For those who don't usually get along with that note, it's very calm here and lacks much smokiness. This is pretty nice as it settles into its final stage despite my initial experience being akin to a kid making a mess of the kitchen pantry. It's a pleasantly dry raspberry, almost wine-like minus the booze, paired with a softly musky/herbal grass from the vetiver. The currant adds a bit of jamminess. A bubbly yet mature fruity/herbal scent. Reminds me of Bewitched.
  5. Balame


    The master of sleight-of-hand and trickery: dexterous, clever, and roguish. He is the mischief-maker whose tricks propel men to action, or dupe the foolish into traps of their own creation. Peru balsam, tobacco absolute, leather, white sage, and blackberry juice. Big whiff of Peru balsam at first. Smells like vanilla and cinnamon, which makes me think of Christmas cookies. The tobacco is right behind it, and it's very much BPAL's chewy/citrusy French Tobacco. Mmph. I'm not able to find the blackberry or leather, but I do get a bit of a powdery herbal addition from the sage. Still balsam/tobacco dominant. I would say that if you like a bit of spice and enjoy French Tobacco and/or missed out on the single note, this would be a good one to grab.
  6. Balame

    The Magician’s Wand

    This smells surprisingly juicy. I wish I could tell what the "sweet resins" were because there's something extremely familiar in here but I'm not certain what it is. I was prepared for a woodsy blend and instead got hit with a lush grape-like note at the start. Not in a candied way, but a fresh juice backed by a soft, amber-like powder. It also makes me think of Two Old Men, which was specifically teakwood dominant. It has that same fizzy, sweet and lightly astringent edge. Perhaps there's a fruity oudh? That actually seems accurate the more I smell this, but this lessens as it wears. Replacing it is a fantastic, creamy vanilla that wafts out over time. I couldn't say what all of the trees smell like individually, but again, it seems the resins are the real stars here. This blend is maddeningly familiar, delicious and magical. It feels oddly "sparkly" to me, which I must say I like. Wish I could place the notes better! Will sum it up as a vaguely fruity vanilla amid powdery but natural resins. Very unique; I want more! *edit* HALOES. My mind finally made the connection; this reminds me of Haloes. I happen to still have a bottle so I compared them. Haloes is lighter, less powdery and has a green edge to it, but I'd hazard to say they probably both share tonka, amber, sandalwood and some sort of fruit or fruity resin. (Oak is common between them.) Glad I figured out why this smelled so nostalgic.
  7. Balame

    The Storyteller

    Oh myyy, this blend is MAXIMUM COZY. Usually BPAL's leather and smoke are pretty in your face, so I was expecting an aggressive scent. Yet this is far more like a crackling hearth fire than a blazing campfire. Initially I smell what almost comes across as pine or juniper. A soft, cool camphor with candle smoke. This quickly dies out and gives way to a drizzle of beeswax, followed by the most beautiful, buttery leather. It's not at all as fierce as it is in blends like Fighter or Rogue. This puts me more in the mind of Not So Penitent Mini Magdalene, with its homey yet understated sensuality. Everything is blended wonderfully; nothing dominates. By the time it's settled, this is a hazy mix of beeswax, supple leather and a wisp of woodsmoke. And everything is so soft and smooth. I think of a pile of weary travelers cuddled near the hearth as The Storyteller mutters in a pattering drone, whispering his tales... and before long they're all asleep, skin warmed by the fire's blurring embers. If you love cuddly blends or are usually afraid of leather/woods/smoke and want something imminently wearable, this is the one. It's a little more subtle than my usual blends, but even I'm going to need more of this around. Very evocative and soothing, one of a kind.
  8. Balame


    After nearly 10 years of BPAL (how time flies) I'm very rarely surprised by blends or find something that works on me when I expect it shouldn't, but Narr is an exception. I was lucky enough to get a tester of this from my kind decanter, otherwise I never would have tried it. I usually hate almond. No matter how often I've given it a shot in BPAL blends, it's unfailingly come across as a sickly sweet, cherry cold medicine scent on me. For the first time it's very sedate here, and the milk is smooth and frothy. When I put this on my impression is of coconut cream with a lightly honeyed/floral (ambrette) edge. It felt like it could be in the same family as Lovers & a Fan, and considering that's a favorite, this was a big plus. Not sure why or how I'm getting coconut, but it's really nice. The buttercream note might make you think this would be cloying, but in fact it's an airy scent and feels quite springy to me. I've about used up my tester now and am actually considering a bottle. It's just a damn good foody blend that's surprisingly light and dreamy. I agree with the other commenter saying it's reminiscent of Dana O'Shee, but again, it's gentler with the almond behaving far better for me. Feels low-key lickable.
  9. Balame

    Eyes Skyward, Eyes Shut

    This smells like the most beautiful lemon balm when first applied. Soft and smooth with just the right amount of refreshing citrus sunshine. As it wears, the coconut becomes more apparent and provides a creamy backdrop. I wouldn’t have known there were resins in this save for the description. The frankincense I could kind of see since it has a bit of a lemony tang itself, but otherwise it's a tough call. If I really focus I can pick out the slightest breath of sandalwood giving things a bit more weight, but essentially this is lemongrass/coconut on me. Which is great! It feels tropical in a calming, lounging on the beach at sunset way. I love the scent of lemon but don’t really have any blends that use it except for Delight & Consternation, and coconut is another one of my favorites, so it’s nice having them in starring roles.
  10. Balame

    Dalliances by Candlelight

    A very sedate patchouli with BEESWAX in all caps. Just a dribble of honey that makes itself known after it's been sitting for a time. This isn't like the white patchouli in This Wan White Humming Hive, which was sharp and aggressive, so if you're worried about that dominating I'd still give it a go. It's definitely similar to Lights of Men's Lives but has that touch of woodsiness. It's a simple scent, but pretty. Like others have noted, I have blends that use these notes in more interesting ways so it's not bowling me over, but it's solidly in the "nice" category.
  11. Balame

    The Pearl in the Volcano

    Lovely! I really enjoy red currant's jammy vibe, but if it's paired with too many other sweet notes it can become cloying. Here it's enriched by the amber cream, but offset by the lemony yet resinous depth of myrrh and the earthy smoke of vetiver. The rice milk overlays everything and lightens the scent up a bit, adding a sugared aspect. Verges on being gourmand, but has enough of a refined edge to keep it in grown-up territory. Creamy fruit and spiced smoke. Hits on just about everything I like in a blend.
  12. Balame

    Exhausted Sailors

    Starts off as heady laundry detergent and you worry if it’s going to be generic ozonic/aquatic men’s cologne, but this only lasts about 10 minutes. It’s very pretty after the initial rush and morphs into a skin scent on me. It smells sweet, steamy and salty. I primarily get a soft woodsiness, gentle musk and silk. Like others have mentioned, I’m not really sure how BPAL has achieved the scent of “silk,” but to me it's like a vaguely vanillic musk with what almost smells like benzoin? It reminds me a bit of the cashmere in Autumn Overlooked My Knitting. The saltiness keeps it from becoming too passive, but overall it’s still a gentle blend. Grab this if you’re a fan of sweeter, less screechy aquatics. Feels refined yet gallant and cuddly. Great scent for a pirate. If you loved the “steamed silk” effect in Impressions of the Floating World, this is definitely in the same family; it just switches out the honey for sea spray.
  13. Balame

    Snake Skin

    I'm one of the few who don't like Snake Oil, but thought I'd give this a shot to see if leather could temper the coca-cola sweetness. And it does! I smell a lovely, dry vanilla with a tickling of spice. There's still the odd cherry association I get from Snake Oil, but it's not out of control. Like zankoku above me, though, I have to say the leather here isn't great. I've definitely smelled better from BPAL. All of the RPG line that includes it, Genital Mountains, Captain Cully, Jolly Roger, etc. This in comparison smells fairly synthetic and sharp. I think I would've loved this if the leather was softer and more worn, like an old riding saddle or beaten-up leather jacket. But as it is, this ends up smelling like plastic cherries and fake leather.
  14. Balame

    Étude de Déshabillé

    Nooo! Wanted so much from this one, but it's not working. The cashmeran and amber combo is very musky, powdery and perfumey. Makes me think of a sweater that's been dowsed in cologne and then left to sit in a closet for months. Wanted something that was more woodsy with a hint of coziness, but this is too heavy and traditional. I've liked other blends with a cashmere note: Autumn Overlooked, Unicorn and Ram. Even Hoiru, which didn't jive with me, didn't smell overpowering like this. The combo is reading as old-fashioned and oppressive to me.
  15. Balame

    Danse de la Mort

    You know that "feels good" meme where the dude has his hands on his face with his eyes closed and he's totally blissed out? This one? That is me wearing Danse de la Mort. HOLY FUDGE BALLS. This is sex on a pogo stick unfff. I love it, and want to marry it and want to do naughty things to it. Instant top 5 BPALs ever for me. It's just. Like. If you take BPAL's sinuous, sticky, sensual opium. And BPAL's chewy, rich, seductive tobacco. And mix it all up with some sweet, thrumming amber and witchy-woodsy sandalwood? That is Danse de la Mort. Aaall of those things are big "heck yes"es for me, so this is just killer. You get a whiff of this on someone and it doesn't matter what they look like, your head turns and your instant thought will be, "DAMN THEY FINE." This is absolutely a must for lovers of any of the notes listed, except maybe amber since it plays a supporting role here. DdlM is like the forest-dwelling sorceress/sorcerer (yes, I think it's unisex) who's suddenly decided to come out of their hermitage and dress up in the best finery for some monarch's ball because they need to seduce someone to save the world. Or something. If you know the game Dragon Age: Origins, it really makes me think of Morrigan's character. To sum up: Yeeeesssss.