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zankoku_zen

Figure in the Attic Window

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A pallid phantasm glimpsed through thick panes of leaded glass, easily mistaken for dust motes dancing in a single beam of moonlight: white frankincense, star anise, wormwood, and iridescent bergamot.

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Not long out of the mailbox, but wanted to get at least a starter review in for this!

 

In the bottle: Light anise and frankincense. 

 

Wet on my skin: Pale, translucent frankincense and star anise, and something a little bitter emerges as it starts to dry. Wormwood?

 

Dry: This doesn't really change much as it dries down and wears. It's a pale, shimmery scent like a ghost, but a ghost made of frankincense and star anise, with a hint of bitter wormwood. The bergamot doesn't seem to be much in play as a top note, but there's a very gentle, warmer, citrusy undercurrent helping to carry the cool frank and anise and give it all that pale, ethereal feel. This scent doesn't have a ton of long-distance throw, but it's actually quite present and even strong within ~12 inches of the skin. For those who've tried Three Dayes from 2015, this is a lot like the top notes from that, without the opoponax/vetiver base to darken it. Very unusual, but also pretty and very much a *mood* scent. 

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This was a bit of a risk for me. Lots of elements here can go really wrong, but somehow this is a best-case scenario for all of them! Tested from a decant that's been resting about a week.

 

Starts out really chilly. Almost minty cool and green with a hint of lemon. I'm 50/50 on lemon being a love or too like a cleaning product. The bergamot is a winner here for me, not sharp or shrill, but very close. I get a light powder from frankincense, but not the powder that can be a major turnoff for me, just soft and dusty. Anise is the last to appear for me, and it blends beautifully with the lemon. About 2 hours in and it's mellowed into a faint green spice.

 

This is one does well to capture the haunted house vibe. A shiver in the beginning and a lingering, warm hint of presence to finish. Lovely. 

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Minty, almost lemony, bergamot with a whiff of frankincense, and honestly this is also giving me citrusy white tea vibes. So pale ghosts in the attic. Cool cool. Would be an amazingly cooling summer scent in the June Gloom. Medium throw and wear length.

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I wanted to get this done & up while the Weenies were still up on the site because I absolutely love this one!! (This was a bit long, because I personally like reading longer reviews.... but I put it behind a thingie so it shortened it up.
 

Spoiler

 

In Bottle: It’s like a lightly flavoured star anise sugar cookie. It’s so nice. Would die to have something like this with my chai in the morning.

Wet: Once on, it has that hit of bergamot to soften it out more, still a sugary, light star anise, but now it’s got a sort of soft citrus floral blossoming. Whatever is used for the “iridescent” shines through on this wet phase for me & the whole thing seems like a coruscating sort of smell. Like a mirage of the two scents where you almost smell a bit of a cold windowpane that’s obscured by a moon reflected off it in an almost alabaster-silver sheen. It makes for a really nice duet burst out of the bottle. I feel like there is a small tinge of mint to do that, but there isn’t a mint note or camphor note listed & it isn’t a medicinal scent. It's just sort of a vaporous or wavering, wiggly lines effect I want to give the scent somehow to make it be “shimmery.” (The wormwood is most likely pulling this trick, but BPAL is magic, so who knows... sometimes I just like to imagine there really is a note for colours & refractions & ideas & let it go).

Dry: After a few minutes the wormwood is trying to get in the game & it’s struggling with the bergamot for it. Which people might think would amp up the star anise, but it’s not. Wormwood can sometimes be a very dry, herbal smell & that’s what it’s doing here it seems. Almost like a desert plant that is trying to be green. So it brings a strange sort of herbaceous backdrop to both the star anise & the bergamot, but more the star anise (I have no complaints, it’s just a really interesting scent & in an unexpected layering… I am really loving it) & I think the frankincense is there as well, but whatever is making it a “white” frankincense is keeping it a lighter note, possibly? More of a sort of spicy, sweet citrus which is blending with the bergamot, while the wormwood is bolstering (not amping) the star anise. If this continues like this, I may have FINALLY found a weenie that works, but more so, a new top ten (maybe a top five!) scent. I may need a back up! 

After an hour or so, the throw is still a solid two feet, but it’s lightened up & is a nice subtle scent at that distance. Up close though, it’s still a really pleasant sweet star anise scent. The frankincense honey-like sweetness (the kind of golden sweet, but also a bit woodsy like smell) is lifting the star anise to an almost floral scent, but not quite. The bergamot is also still there, with a sort of light, dried out note that makes me think of it as a tea (which might be the wormwood? & if it is, the back-up scent notes have switched places). Overall, this figure in the attic seems like any moment it’s going to wave at me & invite me up for tea. Hardly a sinister haunted house shape. Maybe it’s a ghost of a friend. Either way, I am absolutely in love with this & only hope it doesn’t fade out too much more (but if it’s a ghost in the attic, I can’t complain too much, it’s been a delightful house guest). 

After about 4 hours of wear time, it’d faded enough that I can still smell it, but maybe it’s because I know it’s there? However, I think for the full effect, you have to be skin to nose. It’s now mostly a very nice star anise & bergamot scent. There is something a little herbaceous to it, a bit dry & almost like fresh mint as well, but it’s more like a trick, I think, of the two scents that are lingering, but now in an almost equal harmony.

Wear: About 4 hours for a solid smell, but it was still on my skin after 8 hours (very subtle & you have to be right on my skin, but it’s there & verified with someone else so I knew I wasn’t just thinking it was there). If I was more heavy handed, I may have had a longer wear time, but I don't think that's needed to really enjoy it if it's for YOU. As I said, I could still smell it for awhile as I was near enough to myself to do so.

Throw: Started around 3 feet, after about 3 hours, it had constricted itself to an intimate throw space. 

On me? It's a P/U/C scent. That's not to say it is that, but if this were marketed by a typical perfumery, I'd be the skin chemistry for that demographic. (I'm only including this because it's a thing I always want to know.) (It's mostly unisex, but I'd also say it's more perfumey leaning unisex based of how it smells on me. Also, this does not denote a gender or person who cannot wear it, but the feel it gives off to me.)

 

Final Thoughts: Gorgeous scent! This may be one of the more perfect star anise, as well as bergamot, scents I’ve tried. Everytime I caught a whiff of it, I did a quick sniff of my wrist (it was on my inner & outer wrists, inner elbows, & decolletage to test it for a third time to write this up) like some kind of star anise bloodhound, but I also found myself thinking it smelled like a really pretty grey-purple. Like being outside just after sunset in the winter & walking up a long drive or road with trees on both sides making that shivering noise in the wind (that's the leaves telling secrets). None of it scary, but quiet & peaceful & I loved the scent even more. I metaphorically ran to buy a back up (or 7). 

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