New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Touchstone- Shields Up!

I have used public transportation on my commute to work for twenty-five years. From the beginning to avoid contact with those I was traveling with I threw up my metaphorical shields. In the early days that consisted of a book to hold in front of my face and headphones attached to my Walkman. I can’t see you or hear you; I am traveling through space alone. If the train was sufficiently crowded that only part of my protection could be put in place I felt exposed. It still exists in its current evolution as headphones to music on my cellphone and book or game on my iPad. In truth, this is a modern talisman meant to ward off the perceived unwanted influences outside my control. I wouldn’t have thought about that except perfumer Amber Jobin has turned it into perfume; Aether Arts Perfume Touchstone.

Amber Jobin

Ms. Jobin is one of the perfumer participating in the CaFleureBon Project Talisman. (For more on that follow this link). All the other perfumers participating looked to the past for the known items meant to ward off bad spirits. Ms. Jobin looked right in front of her and realized our cellphones are the same thing. In her words, “The cellphone has become the talisman of our age. A kind of metaphorical worry stone or touchstone if you will, we can’t keep our hands off of it.” It is this kind of thinking which makes these projects as enjoyable as they are for me. Michelyn Camen, the Editor-in-Chief at CaFleureBon, asked for “eau de protection” Ms. Jobin translates that into “cellphone perfume”.

Michelyn Camen EIC of CaFleureBon and I at the 2017 Perfumed Plume Awards

Where Ms. Jobin turned for inspiration were the materials, glass and metal; followed by the signal itself sent out over the air. This results in a perfume of dualities as the ethereal and the corporeal form the two sides of Touchstone.

Ms. Jobin employs a set of aldehydes to provide both qualities in the early moments. Aldehydes can have a metallic glint married to an ozonic quality. The use of them in the early moments sets up the signals emanating from the metallic cellphone case. Then a mineralic accord around a geosmin-like note provides a clean stony façade. Each bottle of Touchstone has a small quartz crystal which is mean to be the vibrating heart of our technology. The mineralic aspect of the accord supplies that for this perfume. It would be easy to say this grounds the fragrance but in reality it releases it. It opens up the aldehydes’ expansiveness and provides solidity to the metallic aspects.

Touchstone has 8-10 hour longevity and wears very close to the skin as it is at extrait strength.

While I was wearing Touchstone on my way to work I felt like I had an extra set of shields in place. It really was an “eau de protection”. Touchstone is exactly what something like Project Talisman is meant to do; allow fragrance to open our eyes.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

To read Robert Herrmann’s review of Touchstone on CaFleureBon follow this link.

To read my review of En Voyage Perfumes Figa the first Project Talisman I reviewed follow this link.

Mark Behnke  

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Reefer Madness- Midnight Movies

Before there were hundreds of cable television channels and the internet to amuse you late at night there were midnight movies. Back in the 1970’s on Friday and Saturday nights the local movie theatres showed a set of specific movies at midnight. None of these were current movies. They always fell into a category of very broad humor, adult animation, concert films, and one very strange public service announcement called Reefer Madness. All of these had the common thread of being even better if you were in an enhanced state of mind. Reefer Madness was particularly funny because the 1936, 68-minute film about the dangers of marijuana was so ridiculous it had become a comedy by the mid 1970’s. The tragic story of drug use gone bad was an overheated morality play. With that as background I had a big smile on my face when I received the fourth entry in Cannabis Series by independent perfumer Amber Jobin for her Aether Arts Perfume brand called Reefer Madness.

Ms. Jobin is based in Boulder, Colorado and I imagine with marijuana being legalized in the state it has opened up her ability to consider it as a versatile perfume ingredient. Reefer Madness carries the sub-title “A Narcotic Floral”. Ms. Jobin goes for a big overheated floral. It is an appropriate companion to the movie with which it shares its name.

amber jobin

Amber Jobin

Ms. Jobin decides to collect a bouquet of indolic florals with which to contrast the natural funkiness of the cannabis flower. Early on honeysuckle opens Reefer Madness on a syrupy sweet chord. Gardenia and jasmine come next and these are full versions of both with the skanky indoles front and center. This provides an excellent platform for the cannabis flower to insert itself into. As I wore Reefer Madness there was this interesting transformation as the cannabis flower rose in presence. Cannabis flower has that dirty smell to it and it would seemingly rise out of the indoles. There is also a considerable sticky green character which also came out. Reefer Madness holds here and it is where it lives up to its sub-title as it draws you into its hypnotic spell. The final bit is some authentic castoreum adding real animalic to the indoles and cannabis.

Reefer Madness has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Thankfully Reefer Madness the fragrance doesn’t end in tragedy as the movie does. Ms. Jobin executes her desired goial of creating something narcotic out of a set of intense floral components. Her use of the cannabis flower amongst the other well-known florals works. I do have to admit I called up Reefer Madness on my streaming service late in the day when I was wearing this. In the end the perfume made me smile as much as the movie did.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Aether Arts Perfume Burner Perfume No. 1 Black Rock City & Burner Perfume No. 6 Reflection- Flammable Inspiration

There are literally thousands who attend the yearly Burning Man festival. A great many of those thousands come away inspired by the temporary community erected on the playa in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. To my knowledge out of that cauldron of creativity only one perfumer has used it as inspiration. That is one of the rising stars of independent perfumery Amber Jobin.

amber jobin

Amber Jobin

Ms. Jobin established her Aether Arts Perfume in 2013 and in that debut set of releases was the perfume Burner Perfume No. 2 A Roll in the Grass. Every year Ms. Jobin attends Burning Man she composes a perfume to go with her. Ever the keen observer I was wondering what had happened to Burner Perfume No. 1. Ms. Jobin finally answered my question.

Amber Jobin Burning Man 2015

Amber Jobin at Burning Man 2015 in The Olfactorium composing custom perfumes

She had composed a Burner Perfume No. 1 Black Rock City in 2010 but it had only been shared at the festival. She is now bringing it back so that those of us who were not there can also share in it. At the same time Burner Perfume No. 6 Reflection is also being released which is from this year’s edition. The two are meant to be companions as Black Rock City captures the smell of the playa at rest while Reflection captures it after a thunderstorm has added pools of water to the desert milieu. I also found it interesting as a bit of a marker to how Ms. Jobin has grown as a perfumer over the past five years.

aether arts black rock city

Black Rock City is best described as a rugged perfume similar to the terrain it is evoking. The desert is an unforgiving place but the beauty inherent in that is wondrous. Ms. Jobin captures that roughhewn allure. Black Rock City is a very simple construction centered on the desert flora of sage and mesquite. She mixes the leaves and flowers of sage with the blossoms and bark of mesquite with a bit of cedar for structure thrown in. This is sage and smoky woodiness. It is a linear fragrance with no real development. It shows the beginnings of what Ms. Jobin will develop into.

Reflection is that potential made real. Reflection has a very kinetic development also starting with sage. This time the sage is borne on the wind in front of an oncoming thunderstorm. Ms. Jobin takes the sage and sets it on top of a stiff breeze of ozonic notes and aquatic accords. This is that precise moment before the sky breaks. The rest of Reflection is what is left behind as the storm has passed. The desert flowers open up drinking greedily. Ms. Jobin uses yucca, cactus flowers, and sage flowers to represent this over the still lingering aquatic accord. The florals float above the massive puddles on the desert floor. As the sun comes back to reclaim the moisture the original desert smells reclaim their place as mesquite and cedar signal a return to the baseline. Reflection is a fantastic piece of perfumery as it moves from restrained power into a fragile floral to rest upon that desert ruggedness. Ms. Jobin captures all of that.

Both Black Rock City and Reflection are perfume oils and as such wear very close to the skin with little appreciable sillage.

Ms. Jobin suggested wearing Reflection layered over Black Rock City. When I did that it further confirmed my impression that Black Rock City is more of a perfume base upon which to build a perfume. When layered it provides a real oomph to the final phase of Reflection as the desert returns with a flourish instead of the more gradual transition in Reflection by itself. Reflection is by far the better of the two perfumes. It is the result of five more years’ experience. It is also the result of a young perfumer coming into her own as if she herself is on fire.

Disclosure; this review was based on samples provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Aether Arts Perfume Magic Mushroom and Love for 3 Oranges- Chocolate & Prokofiev

While the three new releases from Amber Jobin’s Aether Arts Perfume were my first new perfumes of 2015 I can’t say I didn’t know they were on their way. Ms. Jobin like so many of her compatriots in the independent perfume world shares her thoughts on how her new designs are coming along online. Ms. Jobin’s posts give us a peek into her creative process and I always like taking my first sniff knowing a bit about how the perfume came to be. The two I am reviewing here Magic Mushroom and Love for 3 Oranges were Ms. Jobin’s forays into gourmand and eau de cologne territory.  

aether arts chocolate mushrooms

Magic Mushroom seems like it should be a natural companion to the other new 2015 perfume Holy Hemp! Instead Ms. Jobin was after another mood altering substance to build this mushroom, chocolate. She takes cocoa absolute which, instead of adding the slightly dusty quality of cocoa, it forms a more viscous base of melted chocolate. Floating on that metaphorical pool are freshly harvested mushrooms with the earth still clinging to them. On the days I wore this I kept imagining the weirdest chocolate fountain with mushrooms floating in the bowl at the bottom. Ms. Jobin describes Magic Mushroom as an earthy gourmand and, especially in the first part of the development, it is exactly what this perfume delivers. She leavens the rich opening with a bouquet of jasmine and orris. It adds a bit of high harmonics to a perfume which has been all bass to this point. Coffee and tobacco absolute return Magic Mushroom to the lower register and transform it into something trending more sweet as the chocolate has the upper hand over the final phase. Magic mushroom has 8-10 hour longevity and slight sillage due to being extrait strength.

love-for-three-oranges-prokofiev-1385054246-view-1

Love for 3 Oranges was inspired by Prokofiev’s opera of the same name. The opera was staged to be a cross between Commedia dell’arte and Surrealism. Needless to say it flew over most audiences' heads when first performed in the 1920’s. As Surrealism rose in prominence so too did the opera and it has become one of the staples of the opera company repertory. Ms. Jobin heard about the staging in 1988 which provided the audience with Scratch n’ Sniff cards to go along with the action on stage. One of those dots was the scent of oranges which was matched to fairy princesses emerging from giant oranges as if they were cocoons. Mixed into all of this were memories of Ms. Jobin’s memories of her grandmother’s orange trees at her home in Florida. You will be unsurprised to know the Florida boy in me was particularly interested in that.

amber jobin winning iao award

Amber Jobin accepting her 2014 Art & Olfaction Award

She has subtitled the fragrance “Flower, Fruit & Tree” to indicate she wanted to capture an orange tree where the orange blossoms and the fruit were all growing at the same time. By choosing to go with an eau de cologne architecture at extrait strength Ms. Jobin eschewed the surreal aspect and instead went for a “whole body” approach to capture that tree with all three phases in it which describe the three phases the perfume goes through on my skin. It opens with that lush juicy orange smell. The one I remember from my Florida childhood eating one while sitting on a limb in the tree. I also remember the smell of the tree when it was full of blossoms as that was the smell of Spring to me when living in a part of the world where it might always seem Spring. Ms. Jobin uses a high concentration of orange blossom and it really brings out the creamy quality of the raw material. Most often it is used as a light bit of floralcy. Ms. Jobin has to use a lot so it can co-exist with the orange from the top. Her success is that I would imagine myself in my tree at both times I described at the same time. Getting orange and orange blossom right is easy the smell of an orange tree is not so easy. It is woody but it also has a bit of an acrid edge to it and Ms. Jobin’s orange tree accord captures that. She blends some green notes with woody base notes. This would not have been a trivial task, I think. This is a simple perfume but it is not a simple to make perfume. Ms. Jobin shows her skill throughout in getting all of the players to create the effect she wanted. In the end for this Florida boy she has spectacularly captured any orange tree I have ever known. Love for 3 Oranges has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Ms. Jobin continues to shine brightly as one of the best new independent perfuers we have and all three of her new perfumes have begun my 2015 on a high note.

Mark Behnke

Editor's Note: My review of the other 2015 release Holy Hemp! can be found here.

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Holy Hemp!- The Making of a Perfumer

The winner of first new perfumes received in 2015 were the three new perfumes by Amber Jobin for her Aether Arts Perfume label. It has been a winning year for Ms. Jobin as last year she won one of the inaugural Art & Olfaction Awards in the Artisan Category. There has been no perfumer who has started with quite this much momentum in years. Not only were these the first new perfumes I would start 2015 with they show the nearly fully formed artist Ms. Jobin has become in just two short years. I am going to review all three of the new perfumes today and tomorrow. I’m going to start with Holy Hemp! because it follows on her previous exploration of the use of the cannabis note in her other perfumes A Roll in the Grass & Burner Perfume No. 5-Incense Indica. It also is very illustrative of why Ms. Jobin has stood out among the newer independent perfumers.

Particularly for a lot of the new independent perfumers who send me samples that I don’t end up reviewing the main reason is they have combined a bunch of nice smelling ingredients into something that smells nice but has no soul. Ms. Jobin has spent time studying perfumery under the tutelage of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. What that means is really understanding not just how to build a perfume around a specific note but how to shape that note to achieve a desired effect by altering the concentration and/or the accompanying notes. This process requires patience and a clear vision. Ms. Jobin seems to have both of these attributes.

amber jobin

Amber Jobin

Her first cannabis perfume A Roll in the Grass concentrated on the way cannabis smells when it is smoked the skanky smoky smell was front and center. Ms. Jobin paired it with a fresh cut grass accord as contrast and it made the name of the perfume a double entendre. In Incense Indica Ms. Jobin imagined the sticky concentrated smell of the buds as a substitute for frankincense or other resins. She allows the resinous quality to rise from out of the smoke and Incense Indica pivots beautifully about a third of the way through its development. Holy Hemp! is the smell of the entire plant as not only the leaves and the buds but also the stalks. There is a wonderful vegetal quality underpinning the rest of what is a very luminous green perfume.

Holy Hemp! opens on an herbal note of Holy Basil also called Tulsi. The Holy Basil adds that vegetal foundation I was speaking of. Ms. Jobin bleeds in just the right amount of galbanum to support that accord of green and growing things. She chooses to add Cananga which is a fruity floral oil obtained when the flowers which produce ylang-ylang oil are distilled. Cananga is a much more transparent version of ylang-ylang as it is both less floral and a bit fruitier. In Holy Hemp! it provides a focal point to find the fruity facets within cannabis. Once you’re led in that direction by the Cananga you almost can’t help but smell it. This all comes to an end with a balsamic base.

Holy Hemp! has 8-10 hour longevity and very little sillage because it is at extrait strength.

Holy Hemp! completes a trinity of cannabis perfumes by Ms. Jobin; but most importantly it shows a young independent perfumer working with an assured artistic aesthetic rare within this community.

Duisclsoure: This review was based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Aether Arts Pefume Burner Perfume No. 5: Incense Indica- Radical Self-Expression

The yearly festival known as Burning Man is a consistent source of inspiration for the participants. As one who attended the early Burning Man events out on the playa it is stunning to see that it has grown from a couple thousand to tens of thousands. Burning Man was always a moment for the participants to find out something about themselves as part of a temporary community. Even as it has become larger there are always signs that it still inspires on an individual basis. For evidence of that you need look no further than Boulder, Colorado based independent perfumer Amber Jobin and her Aether Arts Perfume line. Ms. Jonin creates a new perfume for each Burning Man she attends. For last year her Burner Perfume No. 4; John Frum was one of the best new perfumes of the year and it won one of the inaugural Art & Olfaction Awards in the Artisan Category. Ms. Jobin is one of the rising stars in independent perfumery and it was with interest I waited to see what this year’s Burner Perfume would be.

Amber Jobin's custom perfume offering at Burning Man, 2014

Amber Jobin at Burning Man 2014

Burning Man has a theme every year and Ms. Jobin designs her perfume to fit that theme. For 2014 the theme was “Caravansary: The First Information Highway”. Ms. Jobin was drawn to the idea of “Imagining all the precious and exotic cargo that passed along the Silk Road.” She realized this was a good opportunity to make an incense perfume. As she thought about it she wanted to make a different incense perfume. She chose an ingredient which is “a plant that shares many of the same components, cannabis.” All of this is what Burner Perfume No. 5: Incense Indica became. It seems like as marijuana has started to become legalized it has become more common as a perfume ingredient. Incense Indica is one of five cannabis based perfumes I received just in the last six weeks. That coincidence has also illuminated, to me, the versatility of it as a core note. Ms. Jobin does use it in place of a traditional frankincense in a typical incense perfumer design.

Incense Indica opens with opoponax, choya loban and cannabis all rolled together in a magnificent olfactory spliff. Ms. Jobin captures not only the narcotic depth of the cannabis but also the green sticky resinous quality, too. It is that combination which makes cannabis such an interesting note to build upon. The choya loban adds a cloud of smoke over the early moments. Often smoky notes can overwhelm. Ms. Jobin uses it as a distinct opaque haze. All of this turns decadent with honey as it picks up on the cannabis and sets it glowing. Myrrh adds to the sweetness quotient.. Then Ms. Jobin lets a fully indolic jasmine sambac out to search out all of the deeper skankier noes within the cannabis. The last stage is gorgeously animalic and greenly herbal on a cedar and sandalwood base.

Incense Indica has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Incense Indica shows cannabis to be a fully functional perfume ingredient and Ms. Jobin has used it well by skillfully using the right notes to fully explore all of the fragrant potential within. The jasmine and cannabis pairing is the one which really grabs ahold of my imagination. One of the principles of Burning Man is that of Radical Self-Expression with these series of Burner Perfumes Ms. Jobin lives up to that in all of the best ways.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Nude Moderne, Ginger Rose, Electrum

In the middle of 2013 I received the first three perfumes from independent perfumer Amber Jobin; A Roll in the Grass, Aether Argent, and Inuus. These were surprisingly assured fragrances for a first-time perfumer. One of the reasons that they are as finished as they are is Ms. Jobin has worked for, and with, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz as she learned the techniques of making perfume. These fragrances stood out from the many indie perfumes I receive in a year in the way they seemed polished to me. A downfall of many indie perfumers is to think they are finished without trying to improve the transitions from top to base. All three of the initial fragrances showed a sense of completeness to them. Ms. Jobin would follow this up with one of my top 50 new fragrances for all of 2013, No. 4 John Frum. With that she took an unusual note, Kava Kava, and created a tropical jungle milieu that combined intense florals, juicy fruits and the woods and foliage all with a palpable humidity. I was eagerly waiting for more. About a month ago I received the three latest Aether Arts Perfumes, Nude Moderne, Ginger Rose, and Electrum. Three more examples of a new star in the world of indie perfumes.

Amber Jobin

Amber Jobin

Nude Moderne is Ms. Jobin’s take on a skin scent in both meanings of that word. Nude Moderne is meant to evoke warm skin and it is also meant to wear very close to the skin of the person wearing it. Ms. Jobin shows her skill in balancing a number of synthetic musks to realize her warm skin effect. What she also does is to quite presciently add a bit of labdanum to ground this effect. Without that inclusion Nude Moderne would come off like a one-trick pony. With its inclusion it gives a bit of a spine for the musks to adhere to and to endure for a long time. While Nude Moderne may have very little sillage it persisted on my skin for well over 24 hours and through a shower. Because of the nature of the synthetic musks Ms. Jobin used there is an almost glacial kind of evolution to Nude Moderne allowing it to become sweeter as it lingers on. All of this is not an easy feat to realize and I am quite impressed at the surety with which Ms. Jobin produced it.

geraldine-doyle-rosie-the riveter

Geraldine Doyle (The model for Rosie the Riveter)

Ginger Rose is meant to be a Nouveau Retro take on aldehydic florientals from the 1940’s-1950’s and Ms. Jobin shows the research she put into designing her modern version of a vintage perfume. She said she made up a personality, Miss Ginger Rose, as she composed this fragrance. In her mind’s eye Miss Ginger Rose was an up-and-coming starlet or a debutante. When I was letting my imagination run away with the same idea I saw Miss Ginger Rose as a woman who had taken over many of the traditional male roles during World War II and as the boys have returned home a bit of her favorite perfume reminded her of being a woman again but one who discovered a little power underneath the surface femininity. Ginger Rose the fragrance is like that as it starts off with a fusillade of aldehydes fizzing off the skin along with the energy of ginger. Often ginger adds the effervescence to a fragrance but here with the aldehydes adding the carbonation the ginger is a little more refined. This all leads to a fabulously dense floral heart of rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, and heliotrope. It is pretty and multi-faceted throughout. The base is where a bit of the steel of Miss Ginger Rose arrives as Ms. Jobin adds indoles and beeswax to bring out the animalic heart of jasmine and add a bit of growl to the florals. The growl becomes a knowing resinous smile as frankincense, myrrh, and sandalwood provide a sensual end to Miss Ginger Rose’s olfactory journey.

Ancient-Greek-Electrum-Stater-Coin

Ancient Greek Electrum Coins

Electrum is the classical name for amber which according to myth came into being when Phaeton’s, son of Helios, sisters turned into poplar trees and cried tears of amber. Electrum is also a naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold used in ancient coins. Ms. Jobin wanted to capture both meanings as she fuses the silvery scent of pine needles with the golden glow of amber. Those silvery pine needles are right there at the top but they are joined with an inspired choice of rosewood. The rosewood adds a subtle bit of odd woodiness underneath the sharper facets of the pine needles. As the amber begins to intensify the needles still retain their edge and that edge keeps the amber from being too warm to start. Once the tobacco arises the more traditional warmth of amber also comes to the foreground. The mix of tobacco and amber along with some vanilla turns this sweet until a bit of Africa Stone turns the amber towards the animalic.

All three of these have incredible longevity and moderate sillage except for Nude Moderne which as mentioned above almost has none.

Ms. Jobin has been deliberately putting together a very worthy collection of perfume which I am finding belie her relative newness to perfumery. These first seven fragrances and especially these last three show a combination of technical skill and aesthetic vision that is all too rare in the indie community. I can’t wait to see what is next.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

Editor's Note: Aether Arts Perfume No. 4 John Frum has been named a finalist in the 1st "The Art and Olfaction Awards" in the Artisan Category.