For our second challenge in the wonderful world of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents, we will be looking a few scents that channel a less usual “scent-sation”: that would be the essence of dirt. I know some of you have just given a collective “what?” but there is more then meets the eye. Because wearing a BPAL scent isn’t just about smelling like an artificial flower, remember, it’s an experience. And we will see how fabulous being a dirty girl/boy can be.
Scent Description: Moonlight over grave grass, meadowsweet, marsh hellebore, rock sea-lavender, Irish Lady’s-tresses, melancholy thistle, and wood bitter-vetch, with the scent of autumn fires in the distance, sprayed by wind howling over the Atlantic.
It is worth noting, in case you aren’t a BPAL veteran just yet, that any of the moon scents are limited editions celebrating the full moon. They vary by times of the year, and rarely return for the following one. That said, I believe Singing Moon was a manifestation of July’s full moon in 2007.
I first encountered Singing Moon when I was on my quest to find a blend that reminded me of the California rain. I had just tried the Ghosts of Arroyo Seco Bridge (a scent described to have that “wet pavement” smell) and it had refused to make me smell like Pacific Coast Highway. I was back to the drawing board but a helpful suggestion was made that Singing Moon might be the grail I was searching for.
Of course, I gave into curiosity and followed the suggestion. Cracking open the bottle of Singing Moon, my nose was immediately met with dirt. Not dry, cracked California dirt, parched for want of rain. This is dark, thick, rich soil. The scent clearly makes me think of night. And reminds me of running my fingers through deep fresh dirt hunting for worms. The best bit is that these vivid thoughts aren’t memories, just pictures painted on my brain from the scent. Perhaps they are the Singing Moon’s memories.
Once on the skin, the soil has a watery undercurrent. Initially, I cannot capture a hint of the herbs or lavender promised. It is as if I am in this dirt field far away from any plant life. But as the oil dries on my skin, the plants move closer. I capture a faint breath of something green, herbal and earthy. I cannot decipher the notes separately, as the well-blended nature of this one makes it impossible.
I can say though that in one sniff, there is no doubt that this one is a night time scent, which makes sense seeing it’s a representative of a full moon. I t certainly has a nose-to-the-ground smell of dark, rich dirt that later mingles with a light dash of herbal elements. Its rich and amazing, but don’t worry I haven’t found any nightcrawlers hiding in my bottle just yet.
Death of the Grave Digger ( Carlos Schwabe)
Scent Description : Snow, soil, opoponax and myrrh.
This scent belongs to an interesting family of scents. These are the saloon scents and are olfactory interpretation of classic artwork. I fully admit I am a big sucker for these, as they tickle my passion for art as well as my nose.
The Death of the Grave Digger was one of those scents I dived head-first into. I could have dipped a toe in, sampled a tester before making a bit commitment, but I didn’t. If you mention snow, better beware that I will come running. That said, I dislike the real stuff and have been quoted calling real snow “the silent white death.” But in the ways of perfume, snow is something I love with an unbridled passion.
Back to the grave digger and his untimely demise. The bottle is fabulous as it has the original painting printed on it. I do wonder what the artist would think if he knew his work had been transformed to tease another sense.
A sniff from the bottle eagerly paints the imagery of crisp, cold slush. Like snow just fallen and waiting for me to crunch it with my boots. Faintly, in the background I can smell the edge of pine trees and something cold and almost citrusy.
On my skin, it smells icy and crisp. It’s amazing how a perfume can give you the feel of winter even when it’s not equally snowy outside. Under the coldness, I get a light cocktail of mint, lime and pine. I almost feel like I am standing in an icy forest despite being curled up on my couch next to the heater.
As the scent dries down, I suspect the snow is melting. Its defrosting heralds the arrival of the earth below it. My wrist is overtaken with an earthy-wood element. It remains cool, but is now longer cold. The pine fades though does gently wax and wane over the spicy earth scent. I suspect the resins might have a hand in making this soil spicier then I saw in Singing Moon. As well, this soil smells drier then the last, as if it could easily be a cold winter day rather then a wet night. As the soil scent takes over, I notice there a faint touch of what I would call leaf decay. That smell of leaves decomposing back to soil. Before you worry, this isn’t a bad smell. Rather it almost empowers the forest imagery that goes along with the scent. And that is where it remains. I am at the forest edge beside this sad, recent grave and the snow is fading around me.
Overall Death of the Grave Digger is beautiful and a work of art in itself. It continually amazes me how a scent could tell a story but in this case it surely does. Its especially beautiful to see/smell the elements of the painting come to life, as if I could have transcended time and been there in the painting.
Quick note, as I do detect similar notes that remind me of scent cousins for this blend. Therefore, if this one tickles your fancy and you are hungering for more in the same vein, it would be worth trying Snow Moon or perhaps even Snow Bunny.
Graveyard Dirt (original)
Scent Description: This is the scent of pure graveyard dust, spattered with grave loam and dusted lightly with tombstone moss.
I chanced upon this scent, as it had been discontinued years before I arrived on the BPAL scene. There has since been a re-visitation of the scent, but today I’d like to regale a tale of the original version.
With the decant in hand, I was enveloped in the scent of dirt. Are you surprised? I suppose you shouldn’t be. Yet perhaps you would be surprised to know that this isn’t just a repeat of the ones mentioned before. Oh no. This dirt is drier to me then Singing Moon and I would say with a dusty quality to it. I would even dare to say that graveyard dirt is in fact loam rather then what standard thoughts would consider dirt. And it’s almost warm to the nose, which makes it divergently different from that snowy grave we’ve just visited. And where frost is lacking, graveyard dirt has the lovely nose tingling scent of moss. This dirt has been settled for years now, and little plants are coursing their way through it. I suspect this dirt hasn’t been disturbed by visitors bearing flowers for decades. And with that thought, this scent almost paints a sad picture for me. I imagine this is the dirt around an old gravestone angel. One where all the names of the family are all in place and all at rest. Its beautiful that a perfume can conjure such imagery, even when its as sad as this.
Hopefully, this review has lured you to give some of these “non-traditional” scents a try. I mean, really, who ever said you had to smell like a rose or powder? Where is that in the rules? Better to live life and have daily adventures. And with BPAL scents such as these, it’s an easy way to start.