I love incense fragrances from the very first moment I found my first one. It is by far the largest category within my collection. One of my favorite recent additions was Unum Lavs. The creative director behind that brand, Filippo Sorcinelli, started a new brand late last year called Sauf. The bottles are shaped like organ stops from the Grand Organ found in the Cathedral at Notre Dame. Each of the first three releases for the brand, Plein-Jeu III-IV, Voix Humaine 8, and Contre Bombarde 32. What is unique about organ stops is they are there to produce specific harmonics representing strings, reeds, flutes, or principals. While I was trying these perfumes out it struck me that this is not unlike the creation of perfume accords. As a set of ingredients are used to emulate something else.
If there has been a consistent theme to Sig. Sorcinelli’s fragrances to date is that simpler is better. For two of the three they end up striking a sour note of discord because they are too overstuffed. Plein Jeu III-IV would have been better served if everything but the mimosa, jasmine, incense, balsamic notes had been left. In its current form, there are other notes which distract from the core notes. Voix Humaine 8 was going for a more fragile interpretation but it fell apart when a few too many heavy notes disrupt the delicacy. Contre Bombarde 32 is the only one to get the evocation of the organ stop and the evolution of incense fragrances right.
The Contre Bombarde stop on an organ produces a sound of deep reeds combined with a high brassy sound. Contre Bombarde, the perfume, gets that dichotomy correct by sticking to only a few key materials.
The high brassiness comes from elemi resin which is helped along by bitter orange to accentuate the slight lemony aspect and juniper berry’s astringency to begin the lower resinous chord. That depth is pierced by a fanfare of a very sharp cedar. I like the use of it here because it becomes a kind of separator as Contre Bombarde 32 heads into a well-done caramel gourmand accord. There is some vanilla for the sweet with amber to provide that sense of aged wood. There was a moment on the days I wore this that I envisioned a sticky soft caramel squished onto a polished church pew.
Contre Bombarde 32 has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I really like the concept behind Sauf and look forward to seeing what further fragrances the grand old instrument from Notre Dame will inspire. Contre Bombarde 32 shows that there is beautiful perfumed music to be found there.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.