Perfume Pharmer: Primordial Scents 2012 – Spirit Perfumes

Even the title of this post is confusing… now to briefly explain what this is all about…

Perfume Pharmer (Monica Miller) has sent me the most overwhelming, wonderful selection of fragrance samples. Along with being the perfumer of Skye Botanicals, she has hosted a collection of fragrances called Primordial Scents. These fragrances have been created by many different perfumers, and fit into five elemental categories: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit. Each category has numerous fragrances that are all created to represent their theme.
So there’s a quick overview :) You can read much more about it on her website which I will post at the bottom.

So, to begin with – I’ve picked up the Spirit bag. Having no idea where to start, and seeing that this category only contained 3 fragrances, I figured it’d be a good place to begin. All three of these perfumes are 100% natural… and I don’t have a single notes list to go by so this is terrifying :|

Spirit Perfumes Primordial Scents

Sweet Naam by perfumer Anita Kalnay of Flying Colours Natural Perfumes.

Mmmmm I like this opening. A sweet, herbal concoction of lavender, and what smells like a cool, crisp air of eucalyptus and mint. It feels like there is a subtle, contrasting pimento-like heat. The first comparison I can make is to the confusing but similarly “cool/herbal” opening of Agonist’s Arctic Jade. A sharp bergamot note adds a huge amount of light into the perfume and it sparkles on the skin in a high-pitched intensity, gradually softening as the creamy base pushes forward.

There is an underlying sweetness of vanilla, cut with a cinnamon/anise spice. A floral accord that smells a little like a sharp, honey-laden ylang ylang, and a clove-y hint of carnation and jasmine fills the heart, a little bit of greenery soaking Sweet Naan in a fresh, dewy sap. The lavender stays true to the opening and continues all the way through the fragrance – cool, clear and herbal. As the honeyed notes settle, the floral accord becomes extremely quiet, allowing a vanilla/benzoin drydown and a touch of gorgeous ambergris to finish the perfume.

The complicated fragrance simplifies greatly within an hour or so as it dries, but the finale is harmoniously balanced and meditative. It turns a touch powdery, and almost “wheat-y”, a savoury note de-sweetening the vanilla into something almost skin-like, a little smooth wood securing everything to the skin for hours. I love the transition of the cool, medicinal opening into a soft, warm drydown.  A really, really beautiful perfume :D

Calling All Angels by pefumer Tanja Bochnig of April Aromatics.

Wow! Yet again, a gorgeous opening. An intense, heavily peppered incense opening with a huge oud-like note start this – gone are any barnyard-like fecal notes and what is left is a powerful, charred-wood scent, a heat that sparks off the skin.
A hugely bitter rose note underneath that smells more like a rose concrete, stains the skin in a pungent, dark, stewed aroma. This is totally not what I was expecting!

Underneath, a resin overload of pungent labdanum/amber paints a black layer across the base, with a sticky, almost beeswax-like texture anchoring the powerful incense throughout Calling All Angels. The fragrance from here on remains relatively linear, the resins and incense finishing the perfume, but staying on the skin for hours and hours. The reason I said “oud-like” up top instead of just “oud”, is that this note slowly disappears from the skin within an hour or so – it would be there until the end if real oud was in here I assume, but I may be wrong. Still – it’s a wonderful representation and gives the fragrance an incredibly unexpected start, and I’m glad it doesn’t stick around so pungently for too long!

Shit… seriously, Calling All Angels is one fantastic incense perfume – a definite standout in a market overcrowded with incense soliflores. Gorgeous on the skin, full of rich intensity but harmonious, it is without a doubt one of the best incense fragrances I’ve smelt. A must sniff!

Chyrsalis by perfumer Dawn Spenzer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes

Chrysalis seems to open yet again with a herbal lavender, but of a little more subtlety than in Sweet Naam. It seems to quickly give way to something I struggle to pull apart. It has an earthy accord that almost smells like mushroom underneath, but not at all dirty or soiled. Infact, the subtle mushroom note reminds me a touch of gardenia, and smells a little like the blue-lotus note of Secret Garden by Aftelier. It’s a translucent, almost aquatic gardenia note that I really, really like. It is extremely subtle, but with a beautiful clarity – more of an aroma than a perfume.

What is holding this pale gardenia together is what is baffling me. Is there a green tea note here? I’m not sure. I think I get a touch of rose and jasmine, along with a hint of incense that trails throughout. But Chyrsalis pretty much achieves what its name implies, a clear, almost invisible fragrance, just touched with a scent.

The drydown brings the lick of smoke a little closer to the surface, and a subtle, resinous base of labdanum and maybe patchouli, anchor Chrysalis to the skin for surprisingly longer than I expected. A touch of indole shows up as the jasmine overtakes the gardenia note and keeps the floral accord persisting until the end. Bizarrely, I enjoy it – it is extremely meditative and enjoyable to wear, but doesn’t quite pack the punch that the other two do.

I really didn’t know what to expect when sampling these fragrances, but so far, I’m beyond impressed! I seriously cannot wait to get my nose into the many other fragrances in the collection! This is hugely impressive perfumery and a concept that is turning out to be far more adventurous and unexpected than I imagined! Recommended!

Primordial Scents 2012 Spirit Sample Set –

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23 thoughts on “Perfume Pharmer: Primordial Scents 2012 – Spirit Perfumes

  1. poodle says:

    Calling All Angels is calling my name. I love incense scents. You do quite well picking apart those fragrance notes. I have a hard time with that most times.

    • I could be completely wrong :’) haha, this is what I get though. Very nerve wracking writing about these, I hadn’t heard of any of them before!
      Calling All Angels is wonderful though, it’s still going strong on my hand, I can smell it all around me! Amazing.

  2. Poodle- check out April Aromatics- google her site, this lady Tanja Bochnig is like crazy nice, beautiful and talented- a rare package. I was surprised at how dark her Angel scent was….. … and check out the Bohemian Spice – that’s her patchouli scent from my project Summer Of Patchouli LOVE. It’s awesome. xoxo M

    Smelly Thoughts: YOU are so talented, I am WAY impressed by your nose!!!!! I’ll fill u in w notes on perfumes if you want but honestly your “guesswork” is amazing!

    Heres a sound gift 4 u , 4 the SPIRIT set:

    • Yes Bohemian Spice is a BRILLIANT patchouli – I tried it briefly in Campomarzio70 in Rome last year, I was scared off by the price though :( Stupid really considering I ended up buying an O’Driu :|
      Thanks Monica :D !!
      You know what, the guess work was so fun! But I was so scared to publish this post incase I’d missed something blatantly obvious, or gone in a completely obscure direction :’)
      Hope I did them justice, these were so much fun to sniff. You’re right, Calling All Angels was so dark! Very surprised – it lasted an incredibly long time too.
      Thanks for this opportunity. x
      Oh and the photos in that video are amazzing.

    • poodle says:

      I will definitely check it out. Thanks!

  3. Melis says:

    Freddie, that’s awesome! I’m really into hearing what your opinions are on the scents. You know how I love the naturals, lol! Been reading about the project on and off in the blogosphere.

    • You and me both! I embarassingly hadn’t heard of the project before – but fragrances keep popping up in these bundles that I have heard about and it all starts falling into place. Thanks for the support as always Melis, I’ll keep these posts regular becuase the fragrances are so varied = fun to write about :)

  4. lucasai says:

    Sounds like a nice project to work with. How did you get involved with it?

  5. This has been such a wonderful project. It’s really neat to see how each perfumer interprets their chosen elements, and why they chose them :)


  6. I am impressed how accurately you describe the perfumes, esp. Calling all Angels. Very well done. Almost as if you saw the ingredients listed somewhere…yes very talented perfume writer…:-)
    Thank you for bringing CAA so beautiful into the light.
    April Aromatics

    • Haha! It was very daunting, but I’ve worn these solely for the last couple of days so tried to get to know them inside out, then sum them up as briefly and accurately as I could.
      Congrats on the CAA though, I’ve been raving about it since writing, absolutely beautiful perfume.
      Thank you for reading Tanja, I look forward to sniffing more of your work.

  7. Anita Kalnay says:

    Thank you so much for your brave reviews. Wow, I don’t think even I could come up with that many words for Sweet Naam (and I designed it!). The sharp high pitched note is Kewda – it just had to be in there. It’s a weird note I know – I was attracted to the fact that the plant had ‘air roots’ which seemed to fit for a ‘spirit’ perfume. Remarkable nose – to be sure and you really did ‘get’ the subtleties. Bravo!

    • Anita thank YOU for reading :)
      Sweet Naam is really, really gorgeous! I feel very ignorant not knowing more about your (and some other perfumer’s in the project’s) other work. I was really impressed by this perfume, the transition and change in temperature and texture from start to finish was incredible. The hidden florals took a while to find! Beautiful though :D
      I don’t mean to keep making such a direct comparison, have you tried Arctic Jade by Agonist? If not, be sure to – I think you’ll find similarities more in the cool to warm texture, the mint/lavender opening to vanillic drydown – a gorgeous construction :D

  8. Chris says:

    Great review Freddie
    The Incense fragrance by April Aromatics sounds incredible. Do you have Mother by Opus Oils amongst your samples ? I have tried that one and it is just fantastic.

    • It REALLY is – can’t wait to try the rest of the line, I adore the incense one more each time I try it – I may have to splurge on a bottle D:
      I do have a sample of that I think :D Fab! Can’t wait to try it. I’ve got a lot of Opus Oils work here – can’t wait to get my nose in it!
      Thanks for reading Chris

  9. […] with my overwhelmingly huge sample set of the Primordial Scents 2012 project (First post on: SPIRIT, here) – here is EARTH. I’m sorry for the way this is presented, I didn’t want to fill […]

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