New Perfume Review Sauf Contre Bombarde 32 “Organ”-ic Incense

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.

Filippo Sorcinelli

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.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Unum Opus 1144- Jurassic Goth

With new perfumers there are times they want to just turn the volume up and see where it leaves them. Most of the time it leaves a poorly constructed mess akin to too many people talking at the same time all trying to gain your attention. That style of perfumery wears me out. Less of the time the balance is struck precisely right and I walk away thinking that shouldn’t have worked but it did. Even more rarely is a perfume which teeters on the edge of olfactory cacophony and perfumed precision managing to stay poised on the knife edge of good and bad. The second release from Unum called Opus 1144 is one of those balancing acts.

When I reviewed the first Unum perfume LAVS I praised perfumer and owner Filippo Sorcinelli for keeping it simple. In Opus 1144 Sig. Sorcinelli is anything but unassuming in his construction. Opus 1144 is over stuffed with ideas. Sig. Sorcinelli wanted to reach back to the beginning of Gothic architecture and culture’s beginnings in 1144. The result is a fragrance full of detail some of which almost makes no sense only to find its place in time.  

Filippo Sorcinelli

Filippo Sorcinelli

The opening is as soft as Opus 1144 gets as Sig. Sorcinelli uses bergamot, tangerine, elemi and vanilla to sweeten the citrus. It makes it reminiscent of a candy cream felling almost gourmand-like very early on. That gets washed away on a tide of intense amber and Cashmere woods, actually not exactly as the vanilla hangs in there making this a very sweet amber for a long while in the heart. These early moments tread up to the limit of my sweetness tolerance. I imagine for some it will cross that line. If you allow just a little more time Sig. Sorcinelli abandons the sweet and goes for the animalic as musks and leather are combined with benzoin and ambergris. It forms an accord full of life pulsing with its own heartbeat. The dramatic switch from sweet to animalic is one of my favorite parts of Opus 1144 because it is done with a subtle shift of components and not a whiplash inducing snap.

Opus 1144 has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Opus 1144 has one of the characteristics I look for in perfumes; the ability to change dramatically over the hours I am wearing it without feeling like it is just going through the motions. I felt the real shifting of notes as they would move towards their next stage of development. This is what I was talking about in the first paragraph in a different perfume all of this would’ve felt like a mess. In Opus 1144 it feels like a huge homage to all things Gothic.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I received at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke