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BPAL Madness!

Tal Shachar

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Everything posted by Tal Shachar

  1. Tal Shachar

    Snake Oil

    I've never smelled Snake Oil on its own (I'm most familiar with it in Womb Furie) so I picked up a bottle fresh from the Lab. Strongly suspect one of the unnamed Indonesian spices is massoia bark, native to Papua, because to my nose, that's the buttery/popcorn note mentioned in reviews. That and the patch (cool-toned, rooty) are all I can really smell, the vanilla overshadowed by the buttery lactone notes until well into the drydown. I don't get any plastic or Playdoh nuances. Would I like this if I didn't know all the Deep Lore about SO? Hard to say, but I'll update the review after ageing!
  2. Tal Shachar

    Reminiscent of Wires

    The waxy-citrus smell of aldehydes in the bottle, and wet on skin there's a subtle heat, spicy. Sensations of coldness as well from light herbal top notes, maybe horehound? I get some mustiness, but plastic notes are deep in the background. It settles into a collection of metallic notes that have some spicy floral nuances, carnation-like, unusual but pretty, and so close-wearing that I don't think it would offend anyone else. Reminds me of wires, yes, when they're shiny and new in their coils at the hardware store; also reminds me of the "machiney" scents in the steampunk line.
  3. Tal Shachar


    "The case I allude to is that of an invalid woman who belongs to the humblest class of society. She is nearly thirty years old and very ignorant; her look is neither fascinating nor endowed with the power which modern criminologists call irresistible; but when she wishes, be it by day or by night, she can divert a curious group for an hour or so with the most surprising phenomena. Either bound to a seat or firmly held by the hands of the curious, she attracts to her the articles of furniture which surround her, lifts them up, holds them suspended in the air like Mahomet’s coffin, and makes them come down again with undulatory movements, as if they were obeying her will. She increases their weight or lessens it according to her pleasure. She raps or taps upon the walls, the ceiling, the floor, with fine rhythm and cadence. In response to the requests of the spectators, something like flashes of electricity shoot forth from her body, and envelop her or enwrap the spectators of these marvellous scenes. She draws upon cards that you hold out, everything that you want – figures, signatures, numbers, sentences – by just stretching out her hand toward the indicated place. “If you place in the corner of the room a vessel containing a layer of soft clay, you find after some moments the imprint in it of a small or a large hand, the image of a face (front view or profile) from which a plaster cast can be taken. In this way portraits of a face taken at different angles have been preserved, and those who desire so to do can thus make serious and important studies. “This woman rises in the air, no matter what bands tie her down. She seems to lie upon the empty air, as on a couch, contrary to all the laws of gravity; she plays on musical instruments – organs, bells, tambourines – as if they had been touched by her hands or moved by the breath of invisible gnomes… This woman at times can increase her stature by more than four inches. —Chiaia, in a letter to Lombroso Pale lilacs, white tea, and candle wax. The Lab's candlewax always starts out with a burst of citrus (to my nose, at least), in this case a light clementine-juice scent that obscures the lilac completely while wet. 10 min: Spicy? Tingly-spicy? I'm not sure where that's coming from, but the white tea comes out too, with the lilacs. 20 min: Lilac gets a bad rap around here sometimes, and I was really rooting for it, but the beeswax is making the floral part smell a bit sour and sweaty. It's a very light and inoffensive scent, but when I get in close to the wrist to go "where my lilacs at" it smells like someone holding a lilac bloom crushed in a sweaty fist. 25 min: Sweaty part over. Soft, light, citrussy floral. Flowery but not distinctively lilac. Verdict: Not for me. [EDIT: I don't know when I'm going to learn that it really does make a difference to let scents settle after coming here in the post, but this one was pretty different on second test. Way more wax, no weird citrus, a warm and sweet beeswax scent with a distinct high-toned floral. Though it still doesn't really smell like lilacs to me? I have no idea.]
  4. Tal Shachar

    A Shining Beak of Pure Horn

    Wild green lotus, orris root, bourbon vanilla, white sandalwood, and Egyptian musk. Wet: Oh, this is beautiful. The lotus is indeed green, sweet but fresh and dewy, almost melon-like? A bright jewel-green smell. Drydown: The orris and sandalwood come out with a bit of dryness, although the lotus note is so juicy that it's very much in the background. No sign of the musk. 20 min: I don't always like lotus because it goes to bubble gum so easily, but this is stunning, sweet without being Bubblicious at all. Orris, sandalwood, and musk all remain muted, supporting the luminous green note. 25 min: Spoke too soon! The musk does come out with the orris/sandalwood combo, making the scent a little less juicy and more sophisticated. Kind of dying over this. Do I need a second bottle? Panic!
  5. Tal Shachar

    Pouring Strains of Sacred Song

    Red benzoin and frankincense with honey myrtle, osmanthus blossom, and coconut milk. In vitro: Warm, creamy coconut smell, hints of resins. Wet on skin: Frankincense initially has a slightly lemony smell (at least on me) so that comes out first. I get benzoin from the "is there vanilla in this? no?" thought that usually comes to mind when something has benzoin in it. Osmanthus has a honey-like scent in the first place and with the myrtle, it gives the blend a very, very warm and soft-edged floral smell. The coconut milk is definitely strong here, so if you don't like coconut and were hoping it would be way in the background, no such luck. (I love coconut though.) Drydown: Quite a bit of throw on this one. Besides the psychological effect of calling the benzoin red, this scent does convey red-orange-golden colours, like a sunrise. This is a very lemony frank! 20 min: Lemon custard? This smells tasty but I'm baffled at the lack of resinous business. 30 min: I do love osmanthus, and this is a good blend for it, playing well with the coconut. I like this quite a bit and look forward to really slathering it on once my testing-bottles period is over and I have both arms available. But frankincense stops being lemony and then...disappears? Unacceptable. I thought we were buds. Verdict: Sweet, almost-but-not-quite gourmand, bright coconut.
  6. Tal Shachar


    A dribble of candle wax, distant hearth-smoke, a fleck of chocolate Yule log on a thick wool sweater, and aged, yellowing paper bound by well-loved leather that has passed through many gentle hands. I don't really like chocolate in scents tbh, but this really is only a little crumb of bûche de Noël, and it doesn't linger, which is good for me. Very, very soft leather and beeswax with wool and a slightly perfumey paper note. I don't get any smoke, at least not yet. Very gentle, soft, and cozy, but I'd still call it unisex. I'm going to be very interested to see how this ages. I got a perfectly well-worn paperback copy of Great Expectations (and I admit that a big reason for choosing this scent for me was the fun of getting a random used book).
  7. Tal Shachar

    Aristotle Beard Oil

    Oddly, the label on the bottle that I received lists the description for the Socrates perfume oil instead: "Inspired by anointing oils used in the philosopher’s time after partaking in public baths: orris root, ambergris accord, frankincense, olive blossom, black fig, and marjoram." Is that what's in the bottle? I feel like it might be, but then I doubt my nose. I do pick up the powderiness of orris and what I think is the fruitiness of the fig, but a good frankincense can have powdery/fruity qualities as well, so...idk? Not sure whether the website is wrong or the label. Whatever it is, it's certainly pleasant. At 18 months on T, I don't have a lot of beard yet (and it's all mostly on my neck so I shave it anyway), so I can't really comment on that aspect. I do like it a lot as a light post-shave moisturizer! It sinks in quickly, doesn't aggravate acne, and the scent is very smooth. Suave, herbal yet soft, quite unisex. If the amount of scent in the hair glosses is too much for you (I always found them overwhelming), the beard oils might be more your speed.
  8. Tal Shachar

    A Measurement of the Soul

    If then, man, in every act, leaves the impression, or daguerreotype of his mental being upon the scenes of his life and the subjects of his action, we are by this law furnished with a new clue to the history of our race; and I think it highly probable, that, by the application of this principle, the chasms of history may be supplied, and a glimpse may be obtained of unrecorded ages and nations, whose early history is lost in darkness. The ancient manuscripts, paintings, and other works of art, which still exist – the crucifixes, garments, armor, and other ancient relics, still preserved – are doubtless still instinct with the spirit that produced them, and capable of revealing to psychometric exploration, the living realities with which they were once connected. At present, these relics are barren of significance. Their hidden meaning lies waiting the future explorer, as the hieroglyphics of Egypt awaited the arrival of Champillion to interpret their significance. And why should not the world be filled with the monuments and unwritten records of its past history? It would seem, to the superficial thinker, that man was entirely limited to tradition and written records for his knowledge of the past; but physical science proves, that the world possesses, embodied in enduring monuments, the story of its progressive existence. The geologist finds, in the different strata of the earth, in its curiously mingled and irregular structure, and in the fossil remains which it conceals in its bosom, the history of its various changes of surface, and of the antediluvian races of animals which have long been extinct. The huge Saurian monsters, which he portrays from their fossil relics, rise before the eye as incredible chimeras. And over this fertile region, now occupied by prosperous States, he revives, by the magic power of science, the antediluvian seas and their strange inhabitants, unknown to man. The Past is entombed in the Present! The world is its own enduring monument; and that which is true of its physical, is likewise true of its mental career. The discoveries of Psychometry will enable us to explore the history of man, as those of geology enable us to explore the history of the earth. There are mental fossils for psychologists as well as mineral fossils for the geologists; and I believe that hereafter the psychologist and the geologist will go hand in hand — the one portraying the earth, its animals and its vegetation, while the other portrays the human beings who have roamed over its surface in the shadows, and the darkness of primeval barbarism! Aye, the mental telescope is now discovered which may pierce the depths of the past and bring us in full view of the grand and tragic passages of ancient history! I know that, to many of my readers, unaccustomed to these investigations, and unacquainted with the first experimental facts of this great science, these anticipations must seem a visionary hope – too grand, too romantic, too transcendently beautiful to be true. But observe, that all is based upon familiar experiments, and these results are but legitimate deductions from familiar facts. As surely as the expansive power of steam gives premonition of the ocean steamship, does the power of Psychometry give promise of all the glorious performance to which I have alluded. —Buchanan, 1842 A tactile scent, groaning under the weight of aeons: wild fig, cedarwood, venerable ti leaf, and white sage. In vitro: Woody figgy. I love wood and I love figs. Let's do this. Wet on skin: The cedar and sage predominate, with the fig adding juicy sweetness. The sage contributes a very clean feeling that could strike people as smelling like really nice shampoo (Tabella did the same), but I am cool with that (I have three bottles of Tabella). Delicious, multi-dimensional cedar. Dry: Sillage is very close to the skin. This actually reminds me quite a bit of a more chilled-out Tabella, less bright and sharp, just fig and cedar and sage hanging out together. There's nothing flashy about this, in fact, but it's still compelling and substantial. It's a classy, calm, and wise scent, like meditating in a forest. Definitely unisex; I wouldn't call it masculine, but nevertheless this would probably be lovely on a guy. The sage gets stronger on drydown and reminds me of one of my favourite places in the world, the Mojave desert in southwestern Utah. Love it.
  9. Tal Shachar

    I am All in a Sea of Wonders

    This is so weird, and I love it, though I usually have to layer something with it. To me it smells silver, as people have said, a highly realistic metallic note backed with subtle frankincense, although it's well-blended enough that "metallic" is the overarching impression. Surprisingly, I can't smell the cannabis as a distinct note? But there's something vaguely herbal and medicinal about it, like a 19th century doctor's kit, which I really dig. I'm really curious to see how it will age. I like to layer it with Psionicist from the RPG line, which makes it feel a little more conventional/wearable to me, and also turns the vibe into "psychic Victorian doctor" which is even better.
  10. Tal Shachar

    A World of One Color

    The snow note smells sweet and almost champagney to me, the same as in Faunalia...and to me it doesn't smell like snow at all in the least, and doesn't evoke coldness or anything in the description. No frost, no ice. It's very pleasant as a warm and cozy scent, with cashmere-like soft cedar and coconut, but it evokes pretty much the exact opposite of the haiku. And I was hoping for something like the haiku! But I do reach for this fairly often and enjoy wearing it, so I can't call it a disappointment. It's lovely to catch it wafting from a scarf and perfect for the season.
  11. Tal Shachar

    The Un-dead Home of the King-Vampire Home & Linen Spray

    This is very subtle, or at least more so than the other atmo sprays I've tried. The main note when wet is the dirt note, which is damp but soft. I don't get much incense until the drydown, when there's a mysterious sweetness left in the air. I want to say benzoin and/or a very muted frank? If I unscrew the cap and just sniff straight from the bottle I can smell the leather, but when I spray it on my throw blanket there's very little sillage. I wish there was more oomph because it is a beautiful scent in the bottle, one that I'd wear as a perfume (and it's nice sprayed on a wool sweater). It reminds me of the mushroom blends too, and definitely evocative of a vampire crypt.
  12. Tal Shachar

    Wererat-Infested Sewer

    This is a clean but not sharp aquatic, a soft bluey-greeny moss smell. I don't get leather per se. The water is silty for sure, sweet (although the overall vibe is definitely masculine), a lot like the silty lake water note in Sturgeon Moon. It's more of a movie-set interpretation of rats and stagnant water, not the funky reality, and it is whatever the room-spray equivalent of "wearable" is. Very comforting and cozy sprayed on my favourite blanket.
  13. Tal Shachar

    The Flame of the Bear

    "Flame of the bear" is an interesting phrase that turns up nothing much on google, although curiously a lot of the results are for male enhancement ads. The flame definitely hasn't been kindled yet in this scent. It's quite dark (though not heavy at all) and cold-feeling, without any smokiness, so this is unlit incense. Very low sillage, although that may just be the bottle needing to settle a bit after going through the post in -24 C weather. I love bayberry as a note, and can usually only find it in Yankee Candle form, and luckily this scent has no Yankee-Candle-ness about it. Clean, but not too clean (the myrrh and oak bark darken it), very masc, not intrusive, very evocative of winter woods at night. Edit 7/24/20: I left this on the shelf for a long time because while I liked it overall, the oak bark note just clashed a bit...I understood why it was there, and it wasn't bad per se, but it kept it from being a favourite. Trying it again now, that note has merged with the rest of the blend and it's truly beautiful. It does remind me of a TAL blend, specifically Jupiter. Something very special. Is there armoise/mugwort in this? I've been working with an armoise EO all day and there's a similar silvery green note in here. Anyway, yeah, all hail the aging process.
  14. Tal Shachar

    The Naturally Possible and Impossible

    This has occurred in my presence on four occasions in darkness. The test conditions under which they took place were quite satisfactory, so far as the judgment was concerned; but ocular demonstration of such a fact is so necessary to disturb our pre-formed opinions as to the naturally possible and impossible, that I will here only mention cases in which the deductions of reason were confirmed by the sense of sight. On one occasion I witnessed a chair, with a lady sitting on it, rise several inches from the ground. On another occasion, to avoid the suspicion of this being in some way performed by herself, the lady knelt on the chair in such a manner that its four feet were visible to us. It then rose about three inches, remained suspended for about ten seconds, and then slowly descended. At another time two children, on separate occasions, rose from the floor with their chairs, in full daylight, under (to me) most satisfactory conditions; for I was kneeling and keeping close watch upon the feet of the chair, and observing that no one might touch them. The most striking cases of levitation which I have witnessed have been with Mr. Home, on three separate occasions have I seen him raised completely from the floor of the room. Once sitting in an easy chair, once kneeling on his chair, and once standing up. On each occasion I had full opportunity of watching the occurrence as it was taking place. There are at least a hundred recorded instances of Mr. Homes rising from the ground, in the presence of as many separate persons, and I have heard from the lips of the three witnesses to the most striking occurrence of this kind the Earl of Dunraven, Lord Lindsay, and Captain C. Wynne their own most minute accounts of what took place. To reject the recorded evidence on this subject is to reject all human testimony whatever; for no fact in sacred or profane history is supported by a stronger array of proofs. The accumulated testimony establishing Mr. Homes levitations is overwhelming. It is greatly to be desired that some person, whose evidence would be accepted as conclusive by the scientific world if indeed there lives a person whose testimony in favour of such phenomena would be taken would seriously and patiently examine the alleged facts. Most of the eyewitnesses to these levitations are now living, and would, doubtless, be willing to give their evidence. But, in a few years, such direct evidence will be difficult, if not impossible, to be obtained. Notes of an Enquiry into the Phenomena called Spiritual during the years 1870-1873, William Crookes Well-worn leather, bay rum, vetiver, cigar smoke, and amber oudh. The tobacco note here is the same as the one in Gaueko, because in the bottle they both read to me as a slightly chemical caramel flavour. That doesn't happen on my skin, thankfully, just a weirdness in vitro (love me a Gaueko). The leather is soft and not at all shiny or "new-smelling", receding into the background as the tobacco and bay rum form the foreground. Amber bridges the two and I can't tell where exactly the vetiver is lurking, but it's not prominent. It could be my skin doing strange things, but on me this was very sweet, and not as masculine as you'd think from the notes. I loved the image of 19th century Mulder types in a gentlemen's club talking about ghosts and such, so I was actually hoping for a bit more dudeliness, but I'd say this is just a spicy, warm unisex scent.
  15. Tal Shachar


    Sword aloft, eternally resting beside Andromeda, Algol flickering in the gorgon's head. Greek sage and iris, leather, and ambergris, with a dark gleam of patchouli-soaked blackcurrant. The sage dominates in this muted, close-wearing blend. I expected the leather and ambergris to be prominent, but even after several days of testing I can't pick it up on my skin. The patchouli has the very faintest hint of fruity purpleness to it, and stays in the background. I love this because the sage note is truly beautiful, soft-edged and grey-green, cozy rather than harshly herbal. Sage is one of my favourite notes and there aren't enough BPALs that bust it out. But I wish there was more throw or lasting power, and in fact I'm puzzled that there isn't, given the notes. Aging might bring out some more depth.
  16. Tal Shachar

    The Air and the Ether

    My favourite lavender blend used to be Yvaine, may she rest in peace, but this is an extremely strong contender for Best Lavender. It's floral while still having the strength and structure of a good herbal lavender; at the same time, I feel like someone who doesn't like medicinal lavenders would still appreciate this. (That is mere speculation, because I happen to love the stuff when it smells like a medieval doctor's cabinet.) I'd been expecting the amber and ambergris to dominate the blend, since the description only said "threads", but they're in a supporting role and it works amazingly well. The amber adds depth and dimension to the lavender and also gives it some great lasting power–still smelling this faintly on my wrists after fourteen hours. Can't afford more bottles but that's the only thing holding me back.
  17. Tal Shachar


    Yvaine but with cedar! Perhaps a slightly less flowery lavender than in the dearly departed Yvaine (miss u every day, friend), and I think the gardenia's slightly stronger, but the cedar balances out the florals. The drydown exposes more of the pillowy white softness of the gardenia, with the cedar lingering last like the smell of a nice linen closet. I would love this so much as a permanent part of the Somnus collection or a TAL, but alas.
  18. Tal Shachar


    This didn't hit my nose as foresty, just woody with a cool, herbal lavender base. I might have guessed that some type of white musk was in here, based on the way it wafts and sticks around on my skin, but nope. The individual notes don't poke out too much, though--it's just something calm, refined, elegant, and simple. I agree that it smells expensive, somehow, like being in a luxurious place. It's seriously beautiful and I'm a little heartbroken that I can only have an imp of it.
  19. Tal Shachar


    Wine spilled across freshly pressed table linens, a wilted holiday bouquet, and a furtive hint of whiskey and baked bread. I was so intrigued by this, and I'm not even sure why! I do love dinner parties and the smell of ironed linen. Wine usually gets too noisy on me and I don't like gourmand stuff...but I bought a bottle untested? Okay. In the bottle, the cakey/bakey/bread note was quite strong, Eat Me-like with the berryish wine note. I wasn't going to give it the honour of First Tested, but I spilled a couple of drops so I decided to make this Deipnophobia night. On my skin, the baked goods calm right down and I get barely a whiff of wine--that's really good, since the Lab's wine note often gets cloying on me. The linen dominates, with wisps of subtle whiskey, wine and bread. It's more of a perfumey "linen" note than a photorealistic slightly-scorched smell of ironed linen, but I'm really loving this. Are there florals? I can't pick them out, me. The bread reminds me of the yeasty sufganiyot note in Chanukkiyah (which I also got another bottle of in this order). Nom.
  20. Tal Shachar

    Unicorn and Ram

    Almost a dead ringer for Ivanushka for me, the same "furry musk" note that I've also found in Coyote, Faunalia, and Hunter Moon. Sometimes on me this musk keeps amping and doesn't stop, but it stays mild in Unicorn and Ram. I can't easily pick up the cardamom and oudh, but that may happen later as it ages. But yeah, if you missed Ivanushka and want something like that, go for this one.
  21. A celestial nectar redolent of honeysuckle-gilded amber with honeyed fig leaf, golden myrrh, helichrysum, and white cognac. I made this giant bottle order in a sort of fugue state of mad spending, and I'm not sure what tipped the balance to make me order this one. Like I like all these things, but what made me so sure I needed it? I don't know. Cognac, maybe, since I don't have any good non-wine booze scents. Wet: Fruity, sweet honey with darkness underneath it. Deep huffing does let me pick up on the cognac...the whole thing smells like a beautiful honeyed liqueur. 20 min: This is really well-blended, and delicious in exactly the way I like. Not like "hey you smell like food" but mysterious and mouth-watering, like something you never knew you wanted to eat. It's definitely a celestial-nectar scent, something that seems golden, lofty, and rare.
  22. Tal Shachar


    Clear water touched by a hint of honeyed pale rose, Sicilian lemon, and lily of the valley. Wet: Bright, clear water. So bright it bowls me over--not a quiet water scent at all. A sharp aquatic with white florals, the lemon and honey absent for now. Drydown: The lemon is not very, uh, lemony and more of a clean, cologne-like bitterness. 10 min: Rose, yes. Honeyed rose? LIES. 30 min: Okay, sure, yes, I do get the honey now, but it's very quiet. This stays pretty much as a clean aquatic with floral notes, not unlike Ogygia. Like a lot of aquatics, this is pretty unisex. I like this but I'm not sure it differentiates itself enough from other aquatic BPALs, except in that very striking wet phase, when it does seem exceptionally cool and refreshing, like a mythological fountain. The gentleness of the honey emerges late and it becomes more of a roses-and-seawater scent.
  23. Tal Shachar


    Looking at the other reviews, the scent of this one must vary wildly with people's skin chemistry. I get no honey, brown sugar, heliotrope, or even hops -- I do get amber and some weird note that's kinda like burning rubber and definitely not pleasant. I layered it with some aged Mme Moriarty to try to mask the smell from myself. But it does work. I'm shy and have a lot of trouble with small talk, mind going blank, awkward stumbling, occasionally a mild stutter for colour. Today everyone I ran into wanted to chitchat more than normal, and I was...able to do it? I was able to volunteer details and not just act like I was being interrogated, and I didn't obsess over how I was coming across, and people seemed more animated with me. Maybe that doesn't seem like much, but I usually have to have a couple of drinks in me before I get to that level. This saves my liver! I'm not sure if I'd want to wear this all the time because I feel like it makes me more visible (yeah, obviously, self), but this will be a lifesaver for parties and other social events where I need to smooth the conversations along and boost my confidence.
  24. Tal Shachar


    Is there possibly civet (accord) in this? Something like that? This is almost a dead ringer for the old BPAL Saturn, with the same pungent, animalic note under the (very powerful) vetiver. I'd have to smell them both at once to pin down differences, but it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of the notes were the same, since Saturn is all about nose to the grindstone. As others have said, this is not a blend to make you happy and inspired about what you're doing -- it just kicks out the procrastination. I used it to force myself to meet a deadline...and then immediately scrubbed it off once I was finished, because that animalic note was grossing me out. Next time I might get my work done even quicker just so I don't have to smell that note while wearing Determination. So...yeah, pretty effective.
  25. Tal Shachar

    Lacus Bonitatis

    I had no real idea what this one was going to smell like, and right out of the mailbox this one was reeeally rough sharp geranium. That note isn't so great on my skin, but trying it a couple of days later this smells sophisticated and pretty. It's well-blended, in that I can tell apple and honey are in there but otherwise it all plays like a single chord of scent. Sweet, fresh, clean, not at all a sloppy honey or a sugary apple scent. Nothing dominates. Conveys the concept well: it's a nice scent to represent goodness while still being unique and interesting, without cliche. I'm glad I gave this one a second testing and didn't put it in swaps right away because I'm really digging this.