Perfume Pharmer: Primordial Scents 2012 – Earth Perfumes

Continuing 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 this post with a load of robbed pictures of forest floors and shit – but I couldn’t think of anything better. So here’s a big chunk of writing :) I have written a kind of short summary under each title so you can get a very quick overview then read about whichever ones you want, I know when I come across a ton of writing I’m gone without reading – so I hope this sorts it out a bit…
P.S – read them all! This collection is exceptional.

Earth Perfumes

Mother by perfumer Kedra Hart of Opus Oils

A rich, fruity fragrance with an abstract gourmand fig drydown.

Arghghghg omg what are you?! You are so good! I think. Pineapple? Something tart, sour, fizzy up top… yes, definitely a pineapple note, possibly the best I’ve smelt – has a sour, sugar-loaded fizz like a foam candy. A sweet berry smell comes in, along with something that reminds me of apple, and the fragrance begins to very slowly lose it’s fizz and fall into place as an intense fruity scent that reminds me a touch of Pulp by Byredo.

As it softens, a green, vegetal cedar wood sits underneath the sour stain of fruit, as a bitter cocoa adds a powdery texture and another (unexpected) gourmand edge. Does it smell like something I could eat? I don’t think so. It’s so mouthwatering at first, and delicious throughout, but it never makes me want to eat my skin… perfect! :D

The cedar begins to dominate, along with a subtle floral hint of rose – the cocoa overwhelmed a touch by the woods – and the rose/chocolate combo never smelling as over-the-top and hilarious as 100% Love for example… The drydown becomes more and more bitter as it goes on, the powdery texture still there, reminding me a touch of the smell of wax crayons or play dough – in a synthetic “Demeter” kind of way… is there peach in here? That would make sense…  The fig (which in time begins to dominate Mother) turns out to be a lactonic texture more than anything… it’s fleshy, milky, with a real fruity, mouthwatering scent that keeps the memory of the gorgeous opening trailing through the entire fragrance. The fragrance smells a bit hippy-ish in the drydown, or maybe that’s just me remembering I’m wearing a perfume oil called “Mother”… still, a very unique, beautiful perfume.

Drann by perfumer Kirsten Shilling of Arabesque Aromas

A kind of traditional woody/sappy/incense fragrance – done before, but here, very nicely.

Woody, sour, green, sappy and sweaty – this clear, green smelling thing – is overly herbal with a strong anise and camphorous vibe (tarragon and rosemary?). Whether it is rosemary or lavender I’m not sure – but Drann is cool and calm, the “sour” accord being a little unsettling underneath. It reminds me a touch of the herbal/vegetal notes in Shiso by Aftelier (cloves? oud?) and also the briney/olive scent of many O’Driu’s.

The briney/olive smell is also a little medicinal, the base being a dark sap of resins – labdanum and incense – and that’s how I’d classify it – a beautiful incense! The fragrance reminds me of the concept of Norne by Slumberhouse, only I acutally prefer this. Whilst it’s subtle, it has great depth to it and morphs from a herbal, forest-floor scent into an ethereal, natural incense. A woody support of cedar gives the fragrance a dry, furry green texture – and slowly begins to dominate. Drann is not something I’d want to wear myself, but having smelt many many fragrances that follow this structure and theme, this is one of my favourites.

Oudh Nawab by perfumer Juan Perez of The Exotic Island Perfumer

A challenging, leather spice basket – extremely opulent.

Ooooooh lovely! A bizarre peachy/saffron/leather that reminds me of Desperado by Smell Bent (only a little easier to wear) opens Oud Nawab. There’s an earthy accord of mushrooms, and the texture is like parchment – infact, this reminds me a hell of a lot like Desperado (I sold my bottle but my memory of it is very clear!). Oud Nawab however has a greater density, a more opulent texture – and a stronger base of bitter smoke that starts to weave into the leather.

There’s a whole spice basket in Oud Nawab, but nothing like the almost caricatured (and gorgeously over the top) spices of Eau D’Epices by Tauer… instead, this is almost more literal, the dry scent of spiced air that smells slightly unsettling, completely de-sweetened, and very foreign to the nose, even one very familiar with spicy fragrances. Oud Nawab gets drier and drier as it goes on, the leather getting more smoky and bitter, the spices (cardamom, saffron, cinnamon?) adding a real heat and savoury taste. It has a similar effect to the immortelle in Sables by Annick Goutal – slightly curried and culinary, but keeps your nose glued to your skin. The base is a heavily resinous, dry blend of woods, labdanum, incense and musk: extremely opulent.

This is everything I loved in Desperado – only much easier to wear, richer in ingredients, with greater power and texture (sorry Brent, I still love you). A fantastic spicy fragrance that yet again, I wouldn’t want to wear personally, but would struggle to suggest something better in its fragrance family – brilliant.

Durango by perfumer Shelley Waddington of EnVoyage Perfumes

Possible the best salty/aquatic fragrance ever… absolutely awesome.

Wow!! Love love love.
A heavily salty, seaweed/driftwood scent, overloaded with abstract herbal notes that remind me of a toned down Dirty by Gorilla Perfume: sage being the most dominant. Just a touch of muted citrus freshens the fragrance and a bundle of woody notes underneath add marine, vegetal and dry notes and textures.
Ok so there’s tons of marine fragrances out there, but I love this because it’s so literal. It reminds me a little of Mr.Hulot’s Holiday by CB I Hate Perfume, although that one practically doesn’t exist on the skin – this has a little more complexity with the herbal notes, without being as sharp and intense as Tirrencio by Profumi Del Forte (fennel).

Still, Durango is probably the perfect marine scent – the balance is exceptional, the scent is beautiful and literal, the saltiness is intense and accurate… I need this in my life and on my skin right now :’) It transports me to when I was in New Zealand, and sniffing this for too long makes me well up a little bit – absolutely beautiful. This also reminds me of the salty/marine accord in Dans Tes Bras by Frederic Malle only with less violet – infact, I find these two fragrances quite similar – I love that because my mum wears and adores the Malle so it reminds me of her :)
What I love is that although the fragrance seems to be all about the sea, it’s paired with this beautiful dried grass/earth scent that brings to mind Turtle Vetiver Front by Les Nez – ok so it’s not that heavy on the vetiver, but they both have this “scorched earth” smell, it’s much more subtle here though. It has this vast space to it whilst still being dense enough and powerful enough to always be present on the skin and in the air around you. Can’t even explain how perfect this is…

Incubus by Michael Storer

A truly brilliant smoky, leather vetiver – animalic and untamed.

MMMMM! Shit these are so good! Ok so here we have a big, smoky, animalic, leathery thing. A bitter greenery underneath brings to mind a less floral (and soapy) Bandit by Robert Piguet – although they smell nothing alike. There’s a birch tar smokiness and a huge dose of castoreum that reminds me of Mona Di Orio’s Cuir – along with a rough vetiver that’s completely untamed, yet at an acceptable volume (compared to the nose-shredding Fumidus by Profumum). Comparisons galore I know sorry but hopefully you get the picture.

Basically the drydown of this is a vetiver fragrance, all rough and raw (the only way I enjoy vetiver) – with a decent hit of smoke (a mysterious touch of soap?) and some animalics. It does however have quite a translucency to it, not at all as dense and challenging as it sounds – and whilst it’s bitter and a bit unrestrained in its scent, it’s surprisingly easy to wear and really really attractive. It reminds me a little bit of Complex by Boadicea The Victorious – only without the horror that goes with it. BASICALLY what I’m trying to say is this is damn good stuff. A smoky, leathery vetiver – straight to the point and very, VERY sexy. Gorgeous.

Primordial Forest by perfumer Amanda Feeley of Esscentual Alchemy

An abstract forest floor scent of banana-cedar and liquorice with a high-pitched floral… emotional.

Primordial Forest is almost meditative from the get-go to me. A sweet, herbaceous melody (nothing like the sappy unrestrained quality of the herbal notes in Drann for example) opens the fragrance. A not-quite-edible liquorice is paired with an almost banana-ry ylang ylang I think, and the fragrance brings back childhood memories for me. As weird as this sounds, the memory is of the now-no-longer King Kong ride at Universal Studios Florida…  :’) Specific right? But no joke, two scents that are glued in my memory forever are the smell of the King Kong ride, and the ET Ride (I have yet to find that fragrance <3 But I need it!) Any memories of Florida are my best ever, and this has completely transported me there <3 !

There’s an intense, high-pitched plastic-y smell that I really like in here, almost like a nail-varnish remover that I often associate with narcotic aromas in florals (methyl benzoate?), and it seems enhanced by the aniseed scent of the liquorice and a touch of tart citrus – grapefruit? Passionfruit? Something very unusual!

When this first went on, I thought it was the most predictable of the Earth Perfumes group but I was completely wrong, this is a complicated beauty that I actually struggle to pull apart the most. The only way I can describe the scent is: The narcotic aromas of white florals stripped from the florals…, a hint of abstract fruit including a touch of banana, gourmand herbal accords of liquorice, and a subtle greenery underneath (mainly cedar wood and fir to my nose) – it smells jammy, sweet with an unexpected high-pitch. If anything, it reminds me a little of Totem Eclipe by Smell Bent (I love that vegetal cedar/banana-skin smell). It smells just a touch soiled and rotted – I love the way banana-skin aromas in perfume smells a touch “garbage-y”… I mean that in the best possible way!
Anyway – truly transportive to me, Primordial Forest effects me emotionally when I smell it and makes me feel very happy/sad… if you know what I mean. A very personal fragrance that I could easily grow to love… as a perfume alone – truly original and heart-warming.

OK… SO! This is ridiculous… You know, I gave rave reviews to the Spirit Perfumes the last time, and I was worried about tackling another elemental collection as they are bigger and more varied… I was nervous about not enjoying a lot of them and struggling to write… It has been the opposite.
Perfume Pharmer (Monica) has done an incredible job putting together this outstanding collection of perfumes. The talent is unreal and this Earth set has been the most consistently fantastic and enjoyable bunch of samples I have tried in a long time. I have also discovered some new true loves in this set which I will be now saving my pennies for…
I can’t recommend getting your nose on these enough… a real olfactory experience and a showcase of indie talent. I’m grinning ear to ear :D

Primordial Scents 2012 Earth Sample Set –

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18 thoughts on “Perfume Pharmer: Primordial Scents 2012 – Earth Perfumes

  1. Hylda says:

    Thanks for the post. I didn’t know about this brand.
    They all sound amazing! Wish I could smell these, but not in my budget at the moment
    .Again, I’ll sniff vicariously through you:-)

    • Primordial Scents is a project, a collection of perfumery categorized into elements, it’s a bit confusing and I was very very sceptical but yeh, they are truly truly amazing :D
      Thanks for taking the time to read Hylda! I hope you get your nose on these some time in the future <3

  2. lucasai says:

    Great picture and reviews! I enjoyed the element of AIR more, as expected of me but there were few I liked in EARTH set as well. I need to plan some time and write about them a bit.

    • I’m just taking my time with them it’s so overwhelming i haven’t tackled even half the set yet!
      I just thought this set was incredible, totally unexpected as the whole earthy/green/woody/resin thing isn’t really “me” – every perfumer’s take on the theme though is what is so unique.
      Hope you’re enjoying these lucas :D Monica is incredible to have arranged all this.

    • Dear Lucas
      Do make some time – I would love to hear your thoughts on these!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. You have completely made my weekend with your wonderful review! Thank you SO MUCH :)

    I loved being a part of this project, and seeing direction everyone went in with their elements. Love that you are enjoying the elements too!!


  4. Thank you Smelly
    This is a truly exhaustive and welcome survey of what sounds like one of the most truly fascinating launches in recent perfumery.
    Incubus draws me in more than any of the others here – though that might be playing to type too much – I have leather animalics hardwired into my souls.
    Perhaps going in the opposite direction and playing away from home with the homely sounding mother would shake off the stupor of this unending winter.
    Pineapple is one of the few non-citrus fruits I find myself able to tolerate – it’s that tartness you identify here.
    Than you again
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Thanks dandy!
      You’re totally right, if I’d read this post my nose would have jumped to the animalic leather vetiver Incubus – surprisingly my nose drew me in some places that I didn’t know I loved :P
      This is an incredible project really – I think I’ve just had great luck with the first two Themes… we’ll see ;)

  5. Melis says:

    Freddie, enjoying your reviews. I think of all the elements, earth would probably be the collection most suited to my own tastes. I need to get back to playing with my oils! Your post has reminded me of how much I miss them :)

    • Then you have to get your nose on them Melis! Haha. I was really bowled over by most of them.
      I’m so envious of you guys and your oils :P Think I need to get saving – I wanna play!
      Thanks for the support as always Melis x

  6. What a wonderful moment I had just now, going on Face Book and finding you’d written so lovingly about Incubus. Shortly after finishing work on this fragrance and submitting it, the entire turmoil began for me –selling my home in California and relocating to Arizona– which is why my website is STILL down. I’m still reeling from this. Reading your review is such an inspiration for me to move ahead and get my perfumery running again!
    “Very sexy, gorgeous”… I mean, what more could I ask for?
    Sometimes I miss the forest for the trees. I can’t thank you enough!

    • Hi Michael
      Ow mannnn :( I dunno what I could say! Well, I hope things sort out for you soon. Incubus is a beauty – it’s everything I’ve been after in a vetiver fragrance (Turtle Vetiver by Les Nez was always a touch too straightforward, Fumidus was just too much all together) – your fragrance reminds me a touch of the Les Nez with a dash of Fermes Tes Yeux (the animalic/leather/ylang bomb by JAR). It’s fantastic :D I seriously hope you carry on with your perfumery – and thanks for reading I really appreciate that
      Freddie x

  7. […] Freddie of SmellyThoughts has reviewed Esscentual Alchemy’s Primordial Forest […]

  8. Shelley says:

    Freddie, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate discovering your insightful review of Durango! It’s just so incredible that you would take so much of your time with my perfume and write about it so thoughtfully! And you understood it so completely! You are wise beyond your years my darling.
    I (selfishly) hope to someday discover that you have also reviewed my other two contest entries, A Study in Water (element: water) and Chang Chang (element: the sun).
    At any rate, you have a new follower!
    Shelley Waddington
    EnVoyage Perfumes

    • Shelley I’m not big on marine fragrances – this one blew my mind. I can’t wait to save my pennies and grab myself a bottle for summer, it just captivated me so so much – it brings back great memories for me.
      I’m sure A Study in Water is in my Primordial Scents kit, haven’t seen Chang Chang but I’ll keep my eye out for it – very much looking forward to getting my nose on them :D
      Thanks for reading and your heartfelt reply – your work is beautiful.
      Freddie xxx

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