June 28, 2012

Neil Morris: Devilscent Suite of Five Perfumes

Munich Town Hall
Neil Morris has created a suite of perfumes that that build a perfume persona for the Devil himself. Devilscent #1 and #2 are like getting to know a handsome dark stranger, while Devil #3, moves in for the kill with everything he’s got, now that you’ve been sold.

They are all brothers in labdanum, starting with some underlying bitterness but ending in the sweetness of an almost vetiveresque hay that is smoldering a little from the dry heat. There is an increased presence of a night-blooming flower, like nicotiana or datura subtly ascending in strength over the set. There must be a drop of honeyed amber at the heart, for heat, like a freshly lit cigarette. A tiny bit of pepper or clove is hidden within, to open the nose wider.

I think of them as variations on a scent signature, or the slightly different way you might remember someone the first few times you see them. You become more aware of different facets as more is added to their story, while slowly getting used to the personal fragrance that emanates from their hair, their leather jacket, and the fresh pack of cigarettes they always carry.

This Devil is the heroine’s love interest in Sheila Eggenberger’s manuscript Quantum Demonology, a book about a quest to break out of the chains of circumstances based on the old Faustian mythic story. This time a woman and all her needs and wants is the focal point of attention. The bargain becomes a mutually obsessive erotically charged quest between her and the Devil to save each other.

There is a fourth perfume that sets the stage, place and time, as a whole. It lifts off from all the others and combines elements of all. Called the Midnight at the Cross Roads Café in honor of the scene where the Devil first introduces himself to the heroine, it is a name full of bluesy associations. The name alludes to the legendary crossroads where at the stroke of midnight you can sell your soul in return for perfect power over the guitar or any other creative expression you desire.

This one is like tobacco smoke caught settling down on the last half inch of espresso at the bottom of the coffee cup, while cigarette smoke and personal chemistry wafts through the last crumbs of dark chocolate clinging to the porcelain plates between you and your new lover.

A little something of the sensation of biting into the skin of a black plum after a drink and a smoke, a shade of the scent of good bourbon. It has what I think of as that signature Neil Morris Vault-perfume charisma, mysteriously attractive and hypnotic. This perfume is an electric bass player of a fragrance.

Clearly these would all be irresistible on a man. They, and especially #3 and Midnight at the Cross Roads Café, create an aura of darkly celestial warmth, like a thunderstorm on the verge of breaking into lightening.

A woman who loves dark perfumes would wear these for comfort. They are dreamy to fall asleep in, and because they contain a strong element of labdanum holding the notes together, would be sure to linger luxuriously in clothing or bedding. That special extra fillip of a return to a memory of scent is an additional lure in a perfume that can’t be replicated by any other sense.

Anita Berber, pre-war Berlin's Lilith
The fifth perfume of this suite is Lilith, with a sharp citrus/apricot opening that morphs into a honeyed blonde suede and then melts into a fresh hay/sweet tobacco narcotic heart of darkness. There is respect for female power in this perfume.

It is a balanced contrast and a match in strength and beauty to the masculine Devil’s scents. This strength is in glamour and the inherent power of personal beauty to sway whatever may face it. Beauty as a weapon to be wielded, maybe in self defense, maybe just for the fun of it.

Lilith on its own is more than complex enough, but also still works as a layering fragrance with the others. I’ve tried it on the neck, while the others then become a seductive anchor wafting up from the arms. The heady bright contrast to the deep overtly masculine Devil perfumes creates its own dimensional ambiance that plays the range of chords. There is a common center of the honeyed hay and tobacco among them all that harmonize even as the contrasts heighten the effects of each other.

Even though labdanum is a strong presence, and mysterious fragrant darknesses are the main theme of this set, the overall effects are not heavy. There is a clarity and modern elegant restraint to the composition that keeps these notes from becoming overwhelming. These are all graceful and smart, in the elegant sense of the word smart, as it used to be used to describe an ensemble.

They are true perfumes and not literal representations of anything, though they do envelope the wearer in a seductive atmosphere most conducive to reading the book and entering into its premise with a receptive imagination.

Trying these all on as a suite of fragrances is an immensely luxurious experience.

For more information on Neil Morris Fragrances, please visit his site and take a look at some of the other perfumes I’ve tried in the past on this site, too. I have found him to be a perfumer of great psychological understanding that magically translates into his perfumes. They sculpt the air, and a number of them can also be worn together in a suite such as this one.

For more on Quantum Demonology, please try a chapter online and these other posts,  on the perfumes created for the Devilscent Project. There are more to come so please come back for more here and to the other writers and perfumers who have entered into the spirit of a bargain with the Devil himself. The Alembicated Genie is a good place to start, and you can also follow the tags to this post.

Music to listen to perfume by: Parts per Million by Red Stars Theory

Above images: Dragon guardian on the Munich City Hall
Anita Berber, who died young and was the Lilith of pre-war Berlin, from All My Eyes  

These perfume samples were supplied to me by the perfumer as a participant in the Devilscent Project, and there was no other compensation other than the pleasure of the perfumes and the online company of my fellow participants. I don't have a note list for of the perfumes, so this is simply my personal impression.   


deana @Lostpastremembered said...

You had me at that remarkable gargoyle... what a treasure. Loved your unspooling of the scent profiles. They sound divine in so many ways. I think labdanum (although a frightful word) is one of the great scents, certainly for me. It is a pillar in virtually every one of my favorite scents. I have often thought that liquid smoke and labdanum would be my ideal perfume (with a pinch of ambergris, of course!). Must get of sniff of these!

Lucy Raubertas said...

Deana Neil has a number of perfumes along with these that would right up your alley.
Dark Earth, and all his dark series.

Monica said...

well...I'm sniffing these all again... hmm... definitely seem like different aspects of the same man...

Lucy Raubertas said...

Monica, try them with Lilith on your neck, I think you will enjoy it. While listening to the music I have linked to at the end, I was listening to it as I wrote this. BTW, loving your Green Man bar even more the second time around.

Anonymous said...

"an aura of darkly celestial warmth, like a thunderstorm on the verge of breaking into lightening."

such Evocative descriptions.

Lucy said...

Dezr Anonymous. You are so kind to say so.