There is no perfumer I admire more than Mark Buxton. He would be on my very short list of greatest perfumers of the last 50 years. One of the reasons he is so esteemed, by me, is because his compositions most often have a way of making me see something about perfume differently. In 2008 he finally struck out on his own to create a line of perfume under his own name, Mark Buxton Perfumes. The perfumes in the line all have names which refer to different rock songs. The latest release, Message in a Bottle, is inspired by the song of the same name by The Police, from 1979.
I think The Police are my favorite rock band of all-time. They certainly cemented their place in my affections when they played a concert in South Florida in May of 1979 just after they had released their first album Outlandos D’Amour. They were playing in a hole-in-the-wall bar called Fat Cat’s which would be hosting the finest cover bands in the area the next night. That night there were twenty people waiting to see The Police. I don’t know how discouraging it had to be to look out and see twenty people who paid to see you. What I do know is the band came out and rocked the house. All twenty of us were dancing in front of the stage and singing at the top of our lungs. You know how you go to a movie theatre and you’re the only one in the theatre on a weekday matinee. This was the same thing but with a band. On their next album Message in a Bottle would be released and it wasn’t much of a big hit in the US. Over time it has become the signature song of the band. I saw them on their reunion tour and they had Fenway Park singing out the chorus of “sending out an SOS”. There were a lot more than 20 people there this time. But it still felt like that night almost exactly thirty years earlier. Mr. Buxton captures that early feel of The Police as they fused punk and ska together to form their sound. Mr. Buxton takes a traditional white floral and sets it adrift as a message in a bottle floating upon the ocean.
Message in a Bottle opens on a bright guitar riff of ylang-ylang and magnolia upon a bass line of neroli. This is a gentle slightly translucent white floral effect. It shimmers almost like floral pulses over the first moments on the skin. A truly fantastic jasmine sambac takes the composition deep into white flower territory as the guitar riffs turn into driving slashes across the strings. This is unadulterated jasmine full of indolic goodness sweeping away the opacity of the opening with an imperious gesture. The base is the driving drum beat of the surf as ambergris, sandalwood, labdanum, and civet form the ocean accord upon which the white floral message bobs upon looking for a recipient. The civet in conjunction with the indoles from the jasmine makes for a particularly sublime mixture of the castaway looking on the horizon for an answer.
Message in a Bottle has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Message in a Bottle is the best of the new Mark Buxton Perfumes collection. Its combination of the aquatic and the floral is accomplished in a uniquely engaging way. A perfume full of big bold notes should be a bit too boisterous. In the hands of Mr. Buxton it is the yearning of that solitary figure sending out an SOS only to be rewarded by finding “a hundred million bottles washed up on the shore”. I really hope a lot of people get Mark Buxton Perfumes Message in a Bottle.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Babalu.