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BPAL Madness!


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About starbrow

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  1. starbrow


    Blood: Essence of dragon's blood resin, thickened with myrrh and cherry, with a trickle of clove. Chimera: cinnamon, thickened by myrrh, honeysuckle, and copal. Shanghai: The crisp, clean scent of green tea touched with lemon verbena and honeysuckle. A double myrrh, double honeysuckle scent WHOA! Who would think to put two spicy-floral resins like Blood and Chimera with Shanghai? The Lab, that's who . The amazing thing is how perfectly the green tea and verbena melt into the warm resins of myrrh and copal and the heat of cinnamon and clove for this beautiful convergence of warm and cool. It reminds me of a spice and tea exchange shop in a wooden cabin in the mountains. I'm transported to a place that I want to linger in for hours. For me, the spices are so well balanced, neither overpowering nor getting lost in the presence of the other elements. The florals are less apparent here than in either Blood or Shanghai - I don't really get them much in Chimera - with the honeysuckle like a little droplet of honey in Shanghai's tea and the dragon's blood so much less prevalent (thank goodness) than in Blood. I can't smell the cherry the way i can in Blood. And traditionally I don't get along super well with myrrh as a primary resin, but it is soothing here, neither powdery nor bubblegummy, just gently sweet and complex in harmony with the richer copal wood. Shangoochi is pretty magical, I'm not going to lie. Ever since I got the decant, I've been slathering it a lot because of its huge comfort factor. I'm an enthusiastic Chimera fan and a moderate Shanghai fan, and while Shangoochi is a different beast than either of them, it's truly delicious and bottle-worthy. I may like it even better than Chimera! Shangoochi made my Top 10 of 2021 list. If your skin does well with cinnamon and clove - if you liked the duet Cinnamon & Clove especially - and you like tea scents, and you like that feeling you get when you step into an Appalachian shop in a log cabin - I realize this is a very specific list of criteria, but if one or more applies, I can highly recommend this Blap!
  2. starbrow


    Out of the gate, LEATHER. It's a strong furniture leather that's soaked up the pipe tobacco smoke of many a debauched meeting. (I totally agree with doomsday_disco that it's a cherry pipe tobacco, because when I was sniffing, I started wondering if any of the three blends had fruit in it, thanks to the distinctly fruity smell). Right along side the leather is WHITE TEA liberally sprinkled with florals. It's a pretty amazing sort of Sinner and Saint kind of dichotomy, with the leather/tobacco/musk being really naughty and dirty, and the white tea and dainty bouquet of carnation and rose VERY innocent and young. Missing in action for me is the Snake Oil. I'm sure Snekhellden needs time to age in order for the Snake Oil to compete with the other two blends, but right now from a fresh decant, I'm getting hardly any, even hours later. The leather is still kicking, the white tea has calmed to a dull roar, florals are still sprinkled, but Snake Oil has yet to join the party. I'm amazed at how loudly Maiden speaks here, given the small amount of it compared with the much more "hefty" Hellfire. I put on Hellfire by itself to compare it, and Snekhellden is strangely much louder with the leather and also brighter and punchier thanks to the white tea and florals, whereas Hellfire alone has kind of a cozy by-the-fire-being-naughty vibe to it. I am probably not going to full size a bottle of this yet, but if the proportions change in my decant before Yules come down, I could definitely change my mind!
  3. starbrow

    Sugar Cookie Satyr

    Satyr is one of my favorite GCs, so the Sugar Cookie variation JUMPED headfirst into my cart when the Box o Cookies drop happened. I could not be more thrilled! I feel like it's important to talk about Satyr, whose official description is very vague ( A ferociously masculine scent: sexual, vigorous, and truly wild.) but whose Gingerbread Satyr variation is much more descriptive notewise ( red musk, brown musk, civet and ambergris accord, Ceylon cinnamon, black cedar, black moss, and pine tar.) Personally, I find Satyr is hugely sexy in a unisex way, it all depends on your skin chemistry! Sugar Cookie Satyr is all the rich red and brown (Siberian?) musk that you know and love about Satyr, the gorgeous Ceylon cinnamon, the woody feral depth, plus a spicy cookie layer on type that is both sweet and chewy. The two are a perfect complement. For those who missed out on Gingerbread Satyr, this is very much in that same vein, just without the ginger. Otherwise, it has all the spices and the rich sweet cookie "texture" to it. YUM. As this dries down, the sweetness melds into the spices in a very Snake Oily kind of way. Also in a (whispers) Storyville kind of way. Like this is classic BPAL spices-meets-vanillas-but-make-it-sexy. It is not too cinnamony for me, but I have a high cinnamon tolerance threshold, and Ceylon is my favorite, as it's earthy and grounded rather than super fiery. I think if you love Satyr and you can tolerate some sweetness, this is a no-brainer blend. Also if you like Snake Oil, it's worth a try for sure!
  4. starbrow

    Sugar Cookie Cathedral

    I finally love my aged Cathedral bottle, after years of finding the GC scent offputting. Now, I find the Sugar Cookie variant offputting. This is probably a personal thing, it's just reading strange in like a. Cthonic way. Like this gives me the same unsettled feeling as smelling Magnificent Dreams of Cthulu in Love. Perhaps that is intentional, as sneaking sugar cookies in a cathedral should make you feel a little unsettled and sacrilegious. In any case, I'm not really getting a sweet cookie note from Sugar Cookie Cathedral. Nor am I getting the incense and old wooden church pews of Cathedral. Blindly smelling, I might have guessed actually at some animalic leather combined with wood polish and dust. It's atmospheric but in a funky attic way to me. It's not very sweet at all to me! A big surprise after Sugar Cookies and a Popcorn Garland was a huge sugar bomb. I would like to smell this along with fresh Cathedral, because to me, it's nothing like aged Cathedral, and nothing like aged Sugar Cookie. It didn't work out for me, but I think it's definitely worth trying to see if that atmospheric combo works for you if it sounds interesting.
  5. starbrow

    Scientific, Occult and Inexplicable

    I am drawn to all the steampunk-sounding scents so I had to blind-bottle this one! Scientific, Occult and Inexplicable is very true from bottle to skin. It is fantastically weird, a wild dance of lab smells from a forgotten era. There are definitely sketchy things going on in this lab. There is, perhaps, a handsome figure in a lab coat muddling about, wearing cologne....but any traditional fragrance is eclipsed by the wildness of the experiments around it. So I smell primarily the polished wood - mahogany - and varnish, along with an unsettling note that is very appropriately creepy. Beneath it is a sparkly glass that I love. I get a metallic tinge of bronze/brass/iron, and as it warms, more than a hint; that metallic note really ramps up and makes its presence known. It's not necessarily a *pretty* note but it is fascinating. I am reminded of a creepier Elle Est Heureuse from the Lilith Travelogues, with its Wrought iron lattice and sparkling amber lights. Ultimately that one didn't quite do it for me, and Scientific, Occult, and Inexplicable will also be rehomed I think, because while it isn't the scent for me, I think somebody will absolutely be dazzled by this steampunk lab, and deservedly so.
  6. starbrow

    Sugar Plum Snake Oil

    Very fresh, this is 100% grapey candied plum to me. The Bordello comparison is spot-on, minus the mustiness that Bordello in all its advanced age had to me (which made it smell past its prime). Sugar Plum Snake Oil definitely doesn't have that problem, it is fresh and bright-eyed and sweet sweet sweet. The plum is not at all the 2021 plum, except for the Marshmallow and Black Plum duet which had the same sweet youthfulness as its Snake Oil cousin here; there is no sourness, no bitterness, no 2021 jadedness, it's all joy and childlike wonder and Nutcracker Sugar Plum Fairy. Even on the drydown, I don't get much Snake Oil except for a bit of patchiness that helps the sweet sugar plum linger for hours. I am thinking it will take some time for those classic spices and vanillas to emerge past the candy-bright twinkles of the plum. However, layering this with a darker patch scent (Lajos), it turned out MAGNIFICENT. Sugar Plum Snake Oil would make a beautiful fruity-sweet counterpoint to a dark brooding snarly scent that needs a bit of joy in its life. I am definitely keeping my bottle and OH SO HAPPY that this is a 2021 plum that I can love. I think anyone who goes into this knowing that there's going to be a lot of sweetness in the early stages of this bottle's life will be happy, and the aging process should be exquisite.
  7. starbrow

    Gingerbread Sticky Buns

    One of my favorite 2022 Yules so far! Dusty gingerbread spices sprinkle a warm, lightly icing-drizzled pan of cinnamon buns for a gourmand that is intrinsically Christmasy in spirit. I get a lot of cozy cinnamon and nutmeg, with not a lot of sugar and in fact very little maple or syrupy sweetness that many gourmands tend to have. This one is spicy, and my skin loves it. I amp any syrup note unpleasantly over time, whereas spices mellow in a really beautiful way to my nose when I wear them long-term. I do well with most cinnamons, and I would recommend this blend to those like me who are friends with that particular spice. The more this dries down, the more I am reminded of almost a Snake Oil kind of melange of spices and vanillas, with just a hint of gluten. It veers away from gourmand into a resinous, spicy not-quite-musk place that I am loving. Very very surprising for what you would think was just another foodie blend. Far from it, Gingerbread Sticky Buns has staying power for hours and loses its gourmandness at just the right time, when you no longer want to smell like dessert and instead want to smell like the delicious sex goddess that you are, boom, these sticky buns are here for you. Conclusion: get your Delicious Sex Goddess Sticky Buns on!
  8. starbrow

    Hildegard’s Cakes of Joy

    OMG Hildegard! My idol! The recipe that inspired this perfume was taken from Hildegard von Bingen's Physica, in which she extols the virtues of nutmeg (opens the heart, brings both great heat and good moderation, improves judgment and disposition) and spelt (rectifies the flesh and puts joy in the human disposition). I want both of these in 2022! I think that knowing these two ingredients as the primary grounding factors of Cakes of Joy helps make this scent understandable. It is almost completely devoid of sweetness, rather a sturdy, savory, nourishing "cake" of bread from the nuttier spelt wheat and with a gently earthy spice at its heart. If you are expecting either a sweet gourmand cake or a rich gluteny bread, you will not find it here. Rather, expect an ancient grain in a simple, wholesome context of baked goods, warmed from within by the "Christmasy" earthy nutmeg. There is little clove to be found here, no cinnamon (which was in the recipe, but which would have probably overwhelmed the nutmeg and ruled this out for a lot of people), and the faintest trace of whisper-light honey. I do really love this and will keep my bottle joyfully. I hope that the spices deepen with age, and will experiment with layering a few spicy duets and other blends with it to really bring out that quality, since at the moment it's the spelt that is singing loudest. Hildegard's Cakes of Joy represents the spirit of our mystical abbess very well and is for those who would like to experience the ecstatic joy and open heart of a simpler time.
  9. starbrow


    The poem that accompanies this scent is what captured me and led me to buy a bottle the night it was released. Pablo Neruda's Horses sets the tone with imagery of ten horses surging through the winter mist like waves of fire. I have forgotten that dark Berlin winter. I will not forget the light of the horses. The scent - which does not smell like horses, by the way - arrives whisper-soft, like the mist itself, so much so that I almost couldn't smell it in the bottle after all the other loud top-notey scents in my Yule haul. I can already tell there's a beautiful amber in there, though. It needs a skin-testing. Here is where it shines. It begins to warm the way Amber Incense & Honey Cakes does, as if glowing from within. There is a holy moment here, the sight of a hundred candles slowly lit in a sanctuary while singing Silent Night. The honey is gentle and creamy, like the softest beeswax. The fire it brings is a cozy, candle's-flame fire, not the scrapings of a firepit or hearth. These horses gallop in dreamland waves of fire, gentled, beautiful. At the heart of this scent, illuminated in the glow, is the lovely amber from The Grey Columns. It is an elegant resin, poised, amiable rather than sweet. She knows her beauty and doesn't have to flaunt it. Horses projects more than The Grey Columns did for me, but it is still a quiet and subtle blend. A perfect scent for the new year, for moments of reflection, for reading under thick covers with a well-worn, well-loved book.
  10. starbrow


    I haven't been able to get my paws on Midway, but Lust is a sensual favorite, and Darkness I'm familiar with as a floral with some bubblegummy myrrh. I wasn't sure how the mashup would come out, but WOW! This is Big Candy Mood, like a blue raspberry cotton candy, sexed up with lots of red musk, given a little herbal/floral quality thanks to the ylang ylang and Darkness's florals. It's, frankly, delicious, walking a perfect line between fruity-sweet gourmand, sexy musk, and something a little peppery and herby. In a lot of ways, I am reminded of She Sauntered Vaguely Downward and Vampire Tween from the 2019 Liliths. She Sauntered's pink pepper note reminds me of the zing that's in Midwarkust, while the cotton candy over the red musk is a no brainer. Midwarkust leans towards a more floral note beneath to give it a twist, whereas Sauntered's twist is brimstone, but they both are terribly pleasing. Likewise, the foody sweetness of Vampire Teen with its blood musk, herbal lavender, and buttercreamed cotton candy reminds me a lot of Midwarkust's entire vibe. They are not dupes by any means, but I feel like someone who likes either of those might like Midwarkust! I am definitely full sizing this one and wearing the heck out of it. Yum yum yum!
  11. starbrow


    Alice: Milk and honey with rose, carnation and bergamot. Rakshasa: Sandalwood with rose and patchouli. Scherezade: Saffron and Middle Eastern spices swirled through sensual red musk. You can bet that this one will be a rosy devil! But I'm excited to say that aged Scherezade with its beautiful saffroned red musk is the predominant star of Alischereshasa. Right away, she's a swoony beauty and stays that way for a good long while. If you love Scherezade, this is a gorgeous variant, but if you don't enjoy her, walk with caution! The rose is not a punch of rose as it often is. Instead, it translates to my nose as kind of a rose in lotion form, probably thanks to Alice's milk and honey and Rakshasa's sandalwood. There is a pale, creamy effect that is quite comforting but also startlingly Jergensy. Where straight up Scherezade is an excellent sexy scent, Alischereshasa could even be a sleep scent (and what happens in the middle of the night stays in the middle of the night). I don't get a ton of patchouli or bergamot, but I think the carnation is dancing with the saffron and other middle eastern spices in a beautifully fragrant way. They were a match made in the East! I am seriously considering bottling this blend because I love Scherezade so, and I don't mind the rose here at all.
  12. starbrow

    Sugar Cookies and a Popcorn Garland

    This is quite a sweet, browned sugar/maple syrup kind of scent. Miskatonic University has a note in it that straddles syrup and popcorn for me, and that is very much what Sugar Cookies and a Popcorn Garland does for me. If you were expecting a true salty movie popcorn type of distinguishable note, this one might not do it for you, but if you like the caramel corn family of scents, this ends up being an excellent sweet gourmand in that category. Syrup notes are a disaster on my skin, so alas this won't be a full bottle for me, which is to be expected. I think this will be a big win with others.
  13. starbrow

    To a Wreath of Snow

    I have many of the BPAL tobacco flower blends already in my collection, and they can become a little redundant. I was thinking, hmm maybe To a Wreath of Snow can go? Well, I wore it again today, and no, no it cannot go. It must stay. It is a gorgeous dreamy lavender that starts out just a bit edgy when combined with the tobacco flower and white oud (which is very pleasant and creamy and lovely, by the way), but all of which softens as it sits upon the skin and creates a true wreath of pillowy, snowy comfort. The ambergris lends a kind of glowing warmth that gives me the feeling of candlelight on a bedside table, with a snowy scene illuminated through the window, and a warm fuzzy blanket bundling you in bed with a lavender sachet and a cup of tea. Tobacco flower doesn't smell like tea, per se, it's more the feeling that the scent evokes, very comforting and cozy. I love this as a sleep scent for Christmastime. I could also see myself wrapping presents and listening to my favorite Christmas albums while slathered in it. I think if you love Zorya P or any of the tobacco flowers and you get along with lavender okay, this is a no-brainer. Woof yes.
  14. starbrow

    To A Dead Friend

    I recognize the indigo musk, an inky version of white musk, but here it goes very, very soapy. This leans towards a masculine soap kind of situation, not unpleasantly so, but it is a very rugged bar-soap kind of scent to me. I don't get black plum at all - not the sour 2021 unripened plum, nor the beautiful rich purply plum of yesteryear - it's neither one and so I don't love it or hate it, it's just this vaguely plum-scented soap to me. For reference, I have Crack of Thunder Hair Gloss, and that one is a delicious plum shampoo, very lovely and clean, good for work. To A Dead Friend is so covered up with suds, I can barely smell the plum. Not too much rose, no mentholy eucalyptus here either, and honey doesn't intrude. I'm trying to pick up on amber and it's just...buried in soap. As a plum lover, this one is a disappointment, but I know that I have pre-2021 plums to go back to and love, so it's fine!
  15. starbrow

    A Skull, A Music Book, A Snuffed-Out Candle

    A realistic garden kind of scent, star jasmine to my nose but in fact that is the tulips being their soft little floral selves rather than the blast that is usually jasmine. This is quite a lovely floral. Beneath it is a soapy quality that I want to say is the sandalwood. I love beeswax, but it doesn't come out for a long long time, it's more in the warm quality that this perfume takes on late in the drydown. The leather really doesn't make an appearance at all, either. Very interesting, because leather isn't usually a shy note. As a musician, I was hoping this would be a bottle upgrade, was in truth hoping for a bookish scent, but instead this is a soft, sweet floral without much of the other supporting notes to temper it. I think if I wore more florals, this would be an easy bottle choice. It's very beautiful, just not quite for me.