Having blogged on a difficult, fancypants niche scent on Monday, I thought I’d blog on the opposite end of the spectrum today – AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam from the Scents of the Soul series.
As many of you know, I was trapped in Snowmageddon, parts I and II (part III, yesterday, failed to materialize. The kids went to school, today, sort of. The snow is piled now five feet high on the roadside, and there’s nowhere to walk. Friday was declared the worst commuting day in regional history in Washington, D.C., and that’s saying something. My guess is today wasn’t too much better. We’re missing a lane on most of our major roads.)
So our car was still snowed in, and Louise came down this past weekend, on the nearest plowed road, to pick me up for some sanity time. She got stuck in traffic. I’d had terrible insomnia the night before and was feeling a bit sick and sad. I sat outside of the local market nursing a Coke and watching angry commuters honk at each other. My mood could not have been much more fragile, although I was trying to keep my game face on.
She brought along AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam, which is being bounced around hotly on the blogs and perfume boards right now. I figured I’d get around to trying it eventually, but “eventually” came sooner than I thought. (Look, I’ve created a new tag: Blame Louise). I sprayed Mecca Balsam on in her car before limping into Starbucks for a latte and conversation with someone other than my immediate family, about something other than some dire aspect of the blizzard. (Did I mention our gutter fell off? While I was out? 40 linear feet of metal in the driveway, fortunately not on anyone’s head, as that’s the route to the side door and the mudroom that we all use. It was laden with a foot of slushy ice, and is now twisted like a dead sea serpent on the concrete. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if it had landed on someone’s head.) Notes are: cistus labdanum, frankincense, benzoin, agarwood, tonka bean, tobacco, Indian tuberose and Damask rose.
AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam is not a high-art scent, like perhaps a Serge, or a Malle, where you are thinking your way through what you are smelling. (In the case of some Serges or Malles, perhaps your thought process is w…..t…..f….?, even if you find yourself loving it later.)
This is the olfactory equivalent of a giant, warm embrace of the incense/benzoin sort. Don’t be alarmed by the name – it is not balsam-y in the Pine-Sol way, as you can see from the notes.
AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam is, according to the perfumer, Dominique Dubrana, inspired by a trip to Mecca. I’ll link here so you can read all the blurbage. At the opening it’s sweeter than I’d have expected, rather ambery, but not overwhelmingly so. It settles quickly into a fairly uniform scent that tilts very slightly, constantly, back and forth, between warm and cool – that’s the only way I can think of to describe it, and as I see the same description on The Perfume Shrine I’m linking to Helg’s review, as she clearly knows much more about the line than I do.
I was smelling it without thought, on a messy, sad, frustrating day. And … it’s lovely. Lovely. I smiled and the sun broke out from behind the clouds and my heart lifted. AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam feels more like an essential oil, and I don’t mean that disparagingly – it sits on the skin and then blooms and blooms and blooms. I could not keep my nose away from my wrist. I deliberately sprayed the sleeve of my jacket so I could enjoy it later, and I did. Very much so.
I can’t think of the last time I smelled a fragrance cold, without much in the way of preconception, and was so enchanted. It’s not really about the florals (rose and tuberose) at all; I can’t even pick them out. Incense freaks: man, you need to try this. There is nothing austere about it; it’s warm, like a golden orb. It’s honeyed. It makes me think of burning those papiers d’Armenies, with their smoke and benzoin. It’s rich but not cloying. There’s nothing at all edible about it, it’s not gourmand, but it provided me with approximately the same amount of pleasure as a mouthful of a really excellent creme brulee, or the rice pudding I had recently at an Indian restaurant. It has a fullness to it. It’s smoke and amber, tobacco and the dry/sweet joy of frankincense. (Oud lovers – it’s really subtle here, I wouldn’t buy this scent for that note.) I, who have a ton of incense scents, can’t say that this reminds me of anything at all other than why I think incense scents are so fabulous.
PS Looks like Trish is giving away a bottle on Scent Hive — here’s a link to her review, she liked it too. (nope, they didn’t offer me a giveaway bottle for the Posse, sorry folks!)
You can get a 16ml bottle of AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam for 34 Euros, and that seems more than fair to me. I’m ordering it.