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BPAL Madness!


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About starbrow

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    a little too imp-ulsive

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  1. starbrow

    Right Atrium

    You know how certain scents are just classically Shunga/Luper to your nose? Whatever that might mean to you? Right Atrium is that for me. White tea in creamy, Asian-tinted glory, all its notes in richly elegant harmony, so that when I wear it, I feel that is Lupercalia season. Amber is always something that warms and glows in the background of blends that I wear, and so it is here; it's the tea-light beneath the teapot, keeping it all snug and cozy for you. The white tea will be instantly recognizable to any fans of it in other blends, and the cherry blossom a fragrant Japanese floral that says "soap" to some, cool sweetness to others. But the cashmere wood is a note that swirls the rest with creaminess, with gently resinous depth, that is wholly unique in my experience with white tea blends. Nowhere to be found is the sourness that milk-cream notes can sometimes take on; this is resin-cream, and it is woolly-sweet throughout its wear. Soft when it came out last year, Right Atrium has gained some intensity with age but is still a beautifully wearable scent for the office or working with those used to more "innocent" scents such as Bath and Body Works. Someone who loved their Japanese Cherry Blossom, for instance, would find this very soothing, more rich and complex. White tea fans should run, not walk, to this atrium.
  2. starbrow

    Left Ventricle

    I'm always happy to find a red musk variation that's unique, and Left Ventricle pumps out the goods. This is classic sexy red musk, with heady orange blossom (like Chordae Tendineae) whose citrus is given a little more kick from the bergamot. But what really makes Left Ventricle stand out for the rest is the crush of mint, fragrant and crisp like freshly muddled leaves of mint just picked from the garden. It freshens the red musk for spring, enhanced no doubt by the eucalyptus blossom (which I haven't smelled on its own, but rest assured there is no mentholic blast of eucalyptus here). Overall, the effect is so much more buoyant and cheerful than red musk blends tend to be. If red musk always stomps all over everything for you, Left Ventricle won't change your mind. If, on the other hand, it plays nicely and you're looking to try something red musk dominant with a (literally) fresh twist, this is the heart valve for you. I love this blend for spring and summer, something sultry and yet also deeply rooted in the garden and warmed by the sun. Delightful!
  3. starbrow

    Humorous Copulation

    Unf this is so huffable. I can't believe I didn't review it yet, I ended up backup bottling this 2019 Lupercalia, it was that good. It's all the good parts of Dead Leaves, Cream Amber, and Lemon Peel HG minus the bad parts (mainly, dead leaves ). Thick, creamy resin swirls into sweet lotus (like honey but less sharp and more watery-floral) and the light herbiness of white tea for a creamed/lemoned/sugared tea effect. It's strong, luscious, with excellent throw. Like Snake's Kiss without the snake oil that can be problematic for some, Humorous Copulation is a flamboyantly happy cream with just enough sugar and lemon to make it a very indulgent cup of tea indeed.
  4. starbrow

    Government Officials at an Orgy

    Clove lovers, this is your jam. Apparently, what gets government officials all riled up is some sweet clove, strong and vanillic, with the tannins of tea wafting in the air. This is boldly spiced and wonderfully reminiscent of a tea house turned profoundly sensual. I don't get any blackcurrant or specific vetiver notes, but there is a lot of warmth and depth and richness that I am guessing these notes lend to the showy top notes. If Cat Event Exorcist is the more sanctified clove, this is the erotic clove, ready to make love to your senses.
  5. starbrow

    Glistening Waterfall

    A conglomeration of every possible happy note ever, a party in the nose, wild and full of spring fever. It's a little bit of everything: some sour green apple jolly rancher, some currant tea (those two notes definitely fuse together in my nose), some sprightly sweet pepper. Even a year later, I don't get any cacao, and the lemon peel is very subdued, contributing just a sunny brightness rather than any specific lemony note, which I appreciate. A few hours later, this baby is all soft patchouli. If you want a joyous spring blend that is very unusual and not floral at all, here's your ticket. It's strong when you put your nose up to it, but the throw is very small, so it's quite good for office settings etc.
  6. starbrow

    Chordae Tendineae

    Heady and gorgeous, like all the vital things of life wrapped into one. And the strange thing is....blindly smelling my bottle from last year and even more so one applied on the skin, Chordae Tendineae is reminding me of certain parts of Florida life, specifically beach trips. It smells like red musk on skin warmed golden in the sun, like salt and sand, like the echoes of suntan lotion, and like beach grasses and distant orange blossoms. Rest assured, there is no aquatic note whatsoever, you aren't going to get ocean from this heartthrob. It's all the heat of amber and gilding of honey and the orange-spice of florals giving all these illusions of salt life. No ordinary red musk here, this is stunning. If you can find a bottle, you won't be disappointed.
  7. starbrow


    Oh no, huge disappointment here! The notes looked so good. Rose and teak were the only caveats, so of course that's what I'm getting a ton of. Behind them, apple and something powdery, sweet like drugstore chocolate, chalky and a little fake. The neroli is not behaving nicely with that; it turns the citrusy floral a little sour and I'm not jiving with it. Why is this failing so badly on me? For the record, I adore black musk, neroli, and vanilla, and I enjoy patchouli, bergamot, and some apple. I thought this would be a slam dunk, and it is just clearly not my cup of tea. I'm not even sure who to recommend this to, it just is an odd little bundle of scents. Black musk fans - look elsewhere, these are not the droids you're looking for!
  8. starbrow


    Juushika nailed it - this is "BPAL box", classic old-school Lab resins, gothy and incensey, nice and rich, with a cinnamon note that stands out among the rest. Fortunately or unfortunately, the other three notes are such staples of BPAL blends that this one kind of ends up smelling like the drydown of every resiny BPAL ever, with a little cinnamon from Satyr or Chimera thrown in. Both of the blends I just named end up having more personality, I think. Sin is good, and I will wear my decant for sure, it's just not unique enough for a bottle for me.
  9. starbrow

    Dance of Death

    The first whiff on the skin was very ghostly indeed, like the ghost of black musk and resins...and then that orris went POOF and blew powder all over me for hours. Powdery deodorant is very, very apt. If I was looking for a scent to replicate that, this would definitely do it. But not really a fan of it as a perfume. Black musk is nowhere to be found!
  10. starbrow

    Wolf Moon 2020

    This is still really fresh, and I can tell Wolf Moon will deepen and darken with age. But here are initial impressions: Those sacred pines are really popping. Top notes are all about the pines, bright and needly, with some herbacious berry notes (the mulberry), that combination inevitably bringing to mind thoughts of Christmas and winter. As it settles on the skin, the spices of this Wolf begin to emerge, with cassia, date plum (it really is more "sticky" and dark like dates!), and fig standing out to me if I think hard about them, but overall it's a mulled effect, the resins and fruits swirled together in a single spiced-wine-in-the-forest feeling. Picture the wild berry-streaked Ranger drinking a skin of Harvest Moon 19, and you'd have a pretty good inkling of what Wolf Moon smells like. I actually got a lot of the same feeling from Flame of the Bear (Yule 2019), but Wolf Moon is a little sweeter and stickier, whereas Flame is a pretty prominent bayberry, a tiny bit smokier because of it (since it makes me think of bayberry candles). I'm really enjoying Wolf Moon in its fresh stage, and looking forward to what it morphs into with age.
  11. starbrow

    Songs of Autumn II

    This is totally the hidden gem of the Weenies. This is what red musk would smell like if it was playing dress up in black musk's trunk, trying on Streets of Detroit and twirling in it, plopping Jiaolong's hat on its head and adjusting it at a jaunty angle, playing with its No. 93 Engine and staring out the window at the giant Smokestack in the distance. Red musk tends to be a very distinctive note, but here, it is shrouded in all the mystery and shadow of its black musk cousin. I don't smell burning leaves or actual fire elements here, but it is quite dark and murky, smoothly blended like Pumpkin Musk and Black Oud was in the 2018 Weenies. The notes may sound scary in this Song, but believe it or not, they come together in an appealing, even (dare I say) sexy way. If Streets of Detroit was your jam, and you don't have any objection to red musk in general, I dare you to try this one and see how it goes. Something that should be gritty and offputting is somehow incredibly intoxicating, and I'd hate for anybody to miss out on that experience.
  12. starbrow

    The Flame of the Bear

    At a week old, my bottle is still a baby and smells exceptionally green and sharp and new. For the first two hours, this flame is all fresh-crushed bayberry and fir: a spicy, peppery, waxy kind of pine blend that is so vivid, I could swear I was outside on a cold winter's night, crumbling cold bayberries in my hand and smelling fir needles crunching underfoot. Bayberry candles are a North American tradition for Yule, and so this ends up having a very Christmasy kind of smell, atmospheric, but without any kind of burning or smoke smell, as if you're still gathering all the ingredients to make your candles and there are still many hours of work ahead before you'll have a finished candle to actually light. It's several hours later, and the brightness of the pepper and evergreen has finally waned, leaving the most gorgeous quiet incense. This must be the myrrh grounding it, though there's no tell-tale signs of myrrh either wet or dry. I might have even guessed sandalwood incense, it's that pretty. This is a wild and wonderful morpher, with both fresh and hours-dry a transcendent experience, in totally different ways. One is fierce, green, the bear pawing at bayberry; the other is tucked away in a wintry cabin, contemplative and grounded, close to the skin and cozy. If this is how a newborn bottle behaves, I can't wait to smell this next year!
  13. starbrow

    Mountain Temple

    I have several wintry incense blends, so I thought I knew what Mountain Temple would smell like. Au contraire. I was not prepared for how snowy this blend would be - a bright, slushy snow with some kind of winter flower that I can't name. Narcissus? Snow magnolia? It is akin to a sugared mint or a yuzu, a sweet and cheerful kind of fragrance in spite of the cold. If I figure out the flower, I will report back with an update. Meanwhile, the incense is but a curl through the snow-blanketed forest on this mountain, something that is certainly not pine - it's softer, more rounded - but a wood that is evergreen and vivid. I was surprised at how forest-y the blend was, since I expected a paler, wafty sandalwood incense with a sprinkling of cool snow; I was caught off-guard by a snowy green wood that is still very much alive, with little drops of snow-flowers bursting through like harbingers of spring. Far from pale! Mountain Temple is beautiful and vibrant, it is just a different picture than the one I imagined, and I'm totally okay with that. A medium throw and long (and pretty) wear when fresh like this promises great things with aging. Can't wait to smell this next Yule and see how it's come along.
  14. starbrow

    Chestnuts & Hearth Smoke

    One of my hugest Yule wishes this year was chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The Lab totally read my mind. I got my wish! I think I have a nose for chestnut, because I can pick it up in almost any blend without seeing the notes. And I am a huge fan, so I was just hoping this blend would have a "kind" smoke note. (2018's smoke note was overwhelming to me, alas.) Chestnuts and Hearth Smoke, happily, is everything my heart can desire. I am picking up huge chestnut energy. Wet on the skin, it is just short of funky nut, how chestnut meat can be a little sweaty and gnarly. (Not indolic, though, just funk.) Then as it dries, the warm roastiness starts to kick in and it smooths out into the kind of chestnut that I adore, deep and suave. It lingers for hours, potent and developing more and more richness with each hour. Mmmm. The smoke note is exceedingly kind, and quite soft to my nose. I get a little bit of fire, a splinter of wood, a smidge of ash. No BBQ whatsoever, yay! It is exactly what it says on the tin: The Christmas Song in a bottle. (As a reference for my smoke impressions, Hearth 2017 was kind too, while Hearthflame and Incense 2018 gave me the worst headache imaginable.) Interestingly, several people so far have reported picking up no chestnut and tons of smoke. I get the exact opposite, and I am usually very sensitive to harsh smoke notes. I couldn't be happier with the balance in this blend, which is wholly unique in my collection, and I am looking forward to wearing it for many Yules to come. (Incidentally, I keep thinking this would smell fantastic on a man's skin, like this is what I want a man at Christmas to smell like. But I love wearing it too, as a fairly femme woman. Incredibly adaptable! Also, I *need* this as an atmo.)
  15. starbrow

    Coffee Bean, Cardamom, & Vanilla Pod

    You know it's all about that card, bout that card, no coffee....okay, it's not THAT far! But certainly this is the most fragrant cardamom with just a little accessorizing from the coffee and vanilla. This one blooms and blooms on my skin, shifting from sweet cardamom coffee (in the bottle/wet) to a very "French lady's fancy perfume" cardamom that's uber smooth, posh, and only slightly sweet and with a perfumed version of coffee as well, rather than an actual cup beside you. I find myself craving more whiffs of vanilla, and I'm going to try layering this with other scents and with vanilla-y hair glosses to get some more of that note complementing the rest. It's really interesting, because I associate cardamom with being an earthy spice that's a little gritty and green. But it's exactly the opposite here, it smells very expensive, elevated, enhanced with some perfumery base note but I have no idea what. Is that the vanilla pod? Some other, unlisted note? Probably! It's quite strong on me and I feel like I definitely will have to be in a certain mood to wear this one, because of how long the cardamom lingers around (like, hours and hours), but I'm looking forward to some layering experiments with my bottle of this!