April 19, 2012

The Sting of the Devil’s Scent by Ellen Covey Olympic Orchids - Quantum Demonology Devilscent

Some of the perfumers involved with this unique project have made a number of variations on the scent of the Devil, as their contribution to a story told by one of us, a perfume writer steeped in Metal, history, literature, perfume and sensuality.

The Devil in this case is the main co-protagonist in QD (Quantum Demonology) that page-turner by Tarleisio, our partner in perfume,  Alembicated Genie, a/k/a Sheila Eggenberger. She has charged her perfumer friends with the task of embodiment of his qualities in aromatic form, to be all the things the Devil is in her book. That is, both attractive and frightening, sexy and scary, strong yet existing by the grace of forces beyond his control, masculine but completely focused on what is most feminine to the exclusion of all else. Of course, the ultimate ladies’ man.

This book is the story of a Faustian bargain between a modern woman, and all that phrase implies, and the Devil, and they each have the power to give the other what they most desire and even require to evolve and continue on as their strongest selves, indeed to fulfill each other’s deepest desires. Because they are equals in this way, her soul does not go to the Devil as the result of a bad bargain, neither does she defeat him in some humiliating way, but they both do all they can to deliberately mesmerize each other in order to use their powers in ways they never did before. Together they are in harness to their own personal development as spirits and forces in the world, looking to be set free. They are both powerful in their own way and miserable in their own way, the mission is mutual rescue.

After reading the book I feel like I know the Devil as well as I have some men in so-called real life. You might call such a one affectionately (or perhaps not so much) “a devil.” The Devil is not exactly a cad, he would never be so rude or vulgar, but he is devious and passionate and can make himself as attractive as he wants.  All the the better to ensnare the commitment of a woman who has the potential to redeem his, both powerful and miserable as he may be.  His black leather jacket is perfumed with labdanum and he can well knows all about the finer things in this worldly life, like literature and smart women.

Those who enjoy The Alembicated Genie’s stories about perfumes, and that’s everyone I know of who is lucky enough to have the web address handy, will also enjoy this book. It ought to be available soon, but only if we make enough noise in the ether of the net to get an agent and publisher to pay attention, and take over to do what they do best. I hope you who read these words  repost and Twitter about This Thing of Ours, because if it becomes news, it more quickly becomes available for all to read. And make it easier for our TAG to do ever more. There’s lots of fire in that belly, and a lot more to come, I can assure you.

Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids QD Devilscent variations 1-4 all show different aspects of labdanum with varying foregrounds and backgrounds. The unifying theme for all of them is the magical, almost sacred, deep dark effect of labdanum as a perfume material, which for me especially has almost a narcotic effect on the pysche.

 The first variation begins as the most abstract to me, then quickly dries down to a warm skin musk that enhances the animal aspect within us that we all share. This is a soft black muscle shirt of a fragrance, that is comfortable yet active, the sense of potential energy within the calm is there, generated by exotic top notes of African bluegrass, and tones of giant arborvitae wood.

I love that arborvitae was used as a note. I recall the smell of arborvitae in open fields. They grow spontaneously and colonize open areas and turn them into woods. Even though they are still as trees are, they are dark arrows that seem to pop up more numerously to multiply exponentially every time you turn around. They carry that astringent rough bark and evergreen scent tone with them wherever they go. This first variation has that sense of energy within rest.

Number 2 is my favorite, because it includes a little sting of cinnamon in the folds of its black leather jacket. It carries well outdoors, and comes to you as a scent visitor out of nowhere as you move about. Labdanum is strong but clove and cinnamon give way to nothing and no one. This variation reminds me of the classic red devil that numbs your tongue and presents himself within a well-muscled body and a barbed tail whipping around behind his solid exterior, sparkling electrically, or as quick and sharp as the anger of a cat. This one is dark, spicy, olfactory champagne, if you can imagine such a thing.

The third variation is the devil in all-natural tones. This one is similar to the others in that labdanum is steering the car, but there is a sense of green and a sharp little claw of cinnamon scratching through. The ancient resinous tones last on the skin, and I get the sense that this one would blend into the skin most intimately, using your natural body scent as part of the perfume.

The fourth variation starts out astringently, and then dries down to the tone of an old book lying face open in the sun, as the black ink warms and emanates the darkness of the words. Perhaps these are the words of the Genie herself. Then, a certain coolness springs up and seems to drive away super fast, leaving some skid marks of rubber on the asphalt road.

There’s plenty of dark exotica going on in all the variations, the list of notes is dense with evocative names such as black truffle tincture, deer musk reconstruction, castoreum, clear, dark and green labdanum, black vanilla and African stone tincture, to name but a few. Perfect for a being who is committed to his image as the Prince of Darkness.

As masculine perfumes, I think these advertise a promise of personal strength that the wearer would do well to be able to deliver. On a woman such perfumes would simply invite any companion of hers to lie down and close their eyes and listen to her voice as she pulls them into an ever deeper hypnotic trance, so they may access their most exciting dark memories.

Getting the set of four altogether makes me think of using them all alternately as a suite of perfumes, based on a common theme that could run over the course of a week to ten days, alternating between them to match personal moods within the mind of a devilish being.

A perfume for Lilith was included with the set, but I will save all the perfumes based on the Lilith character in the book, and do a piece on them separately.

Please visit the other sites participating in this Project, especially on this set of perfumes, by Sheila Eggengerger and Monica Miller and try the first chapter of QD, it will get you in the mood for supernatural perfumes in the night.

Above image, top: Embossed black leather at Tube Tone Coverings, for your amps;
Marlon Brando in The Wild One  from The Black Leather Jacket Club; 
4 Devil variations by The Alembicated Genie
and of course Mick Jagger, he will always be what the Devil looks like to me.

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