New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Dia de Muertos- Tropical Trick or Treat

Growing up in South Florida always gave me a skewed perspective of the end of year Holidays. Where most Americans associate them with scents of burning leaves, spices, and warmth; I experienced something different. I was living in the tropics. The scents of October weren’t that different from the scents of August or June or April. Things bloomed and grew all year long. When kids were swishing through dead leaves on the ground in a haze of woodsmoke as they trick or treated. I was walking under fruit trees and palms with night-blooming flowers in the air. I never felt like I was missing out. I was reminded of those days with Aether Arts Perfume Dia de Muertos.

Amber Jobin

Independent perfumer Amber Jobin is inspired by the Mexican variation of Halloween. The Cuban families I grew up with didn’t celebrate this. I only became aware of it as an adult. Now it has become more well-known with its own fetishes of grinning skeletons adorned with garlands of flowers and plates of fruit in front. Ms. Jobin is focused on that combination of scents to form a different kind of fruity floral.

She uses guava as her main source of fruit. I enjoy the musky sweetness of this a lot. A spray of spices coat things. The floral accord appears, and it is made up of the acerbic marigold, powdery mimosa, spicy carnation, and that night-blooming star jasmine. The richness of the floral accord flows into the spiced guava beautifully. This reminded me a lot of the way Halloween smelled to me as a boy. A set of earthy notes including moss add in the graveyard accord. Through this part a trickle of beeswax adds a simmering animalic effect which made me think of something furry off in the distance.

Dia de Muertos has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am old enough now that going out for Halloween is not really an option. I am not old enough to not enjoy being reminded of running through a tropical night with a pillowcase of candy under the moonlight. Dia de Muertos takes me there.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Burner Perfume No. 11 The Space Between- Virtual Playa

All my favorite independent perfumers have wonderful stories which found them expressing themselves through scent. Amber Jobin’s is one of my favorites. Her Aether Arts Perfume brand began out on the playa of Burning Man over a decade ago. Ms. Jobin has always made perfumery her contribution to the artistic gestalt of the annual festival. She started designing a specific perfume to complement each edition’s theme called Burner Perfumes. Her star took off when Burner Perfume No. 4 John Frum would win an Art & Olfaction Award. That one was her inflection point where the artist confidently came into view.

Amber Jobin at Burning Man

Every year since discovering Ms. Jobin the arrival of a new Burner Perfume is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I usually get my sample a few weeks post-Burning Man. 2020 is different of course. The pandemic has canceled the event for this year. It doesn’t mean we aren’t getting a Burner Perfume it is just coming a little sooner. Aether Arts Burner Perfume No. 11 The Space Between keeps the creativity going.

More Amber Jobin from Burning Man

The theme for this year’s canceled version was “The Multiverse”. As she considered this concept that each person is their own universe with each of us making up the multiverse. How to design a scent which allows us to bridge those spaces with a scent that is The Space Between.

Ms. Jobin designed it in three different accords. The first one called “The Place of Potential” is a fleeting citrus and spice affair. This is the rind of citrus over the pulp while cardamom provides a spice complement. Potential is a fragile thing requiring grounding which is what Ms. Jobin provides in the middle accord called, “Everything is Possible”. This is a gorgeous fruity floral accord given a vegetal veil through tomato leaf. It is those glimmers from the top accord given more foundation. Ms. Jobin forms a contemporary version of the classic form. This leads to the final accord, “The Void” this is the attempt to make that connection of one piece of the multiverse to the other. This accord has grown out of her previous Exobotany and AI series. She has become adept at finding a way to capture the empty spaces, which occurs here. Using a series of unusual notes like katrafay, mushroom, and nagarmotha the base accord has a unique harmonic. As if it is coming from its own universe to find me.

The Space Between has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

There won’t be anyone on the playa this year. Ms. Jobin has made sure it survives by creating a virtual playa out of The Space Between.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Be Boulder- Finding Center

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I am using perfume to help get through these days of coronavirus. I have learned that my shelves are full of beautiful perfumes which allow me to take some time to just sit and enjoy them as I search for some inner peace. It has been a silver lining of being at home. I wouldn’t have thought I would want a new fragrance to achieve the same thing. Aether Arts Perfume Be Boulder allowed me to find my center.

Amber Jobin

When I say I wouldn’t want a new contemplative perfume. I mean I wouldn’t want one from just anybody. Independent perfumer Amber Jobin is definitely one who I would want one from. One big reason is I connect with Ms. Jobin’s creations on multiple levels. She is one of my favorites because she engages heart and mind. I spend as much time going to the place she wants to take me as I do thinking about how she does it. My package of Be Boulder arrived just before we were all asked to stay at home.

Ms. Jobin’s intent was to use a botanical construct to form a fragrance which would take you to a positive place. She lives in Boulder, Colorado because she can just walk outdoors and find that positivity in the Rocky Mountains surrounding the town. The perfume is meant to take those of us who live hundreds of miles away to the same place.

Be Boulder opens with an accord of high-altitude sunlight. Every sunny day we have I go and turn my face towards the sun. This opening of yuzu, lime, petitgrain, and black pepper does the same. I breathe in the brilliance of the day including the impending sun sneeze through the black pepper. I adore that last ingredient for that. The heart accord is one of green growing things in the early days of spring. Tomato leaf, sage, and cannabis all provide different shades of verdancy; vegetal, herbal, and different herbal. It is the extra ingredient that adds the dollop of joy as rose is mixed within the green. It flows naturally as if the spring has turned to the blooms of summer. The final bit is the scent of the evergreens on the slopes of the mountains. A suite of terpenic woods give that refreshing pine scent you find in the woods.

Be Boulder has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have worn Be Boulder on three different days as I sat on my back porch. I was practicing my breathing looking for peace. Be Boulder provided a perfect focal point to find it.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Gunsmoke & Roses- In A Western Town

One of my favorite movie genres is the Western. One of the reasons I like Star Wars so much is George Lucas described it as “Wagon Train among the stars”. The recent “The Mandalorian” confirmed the Western milieu of that galaxy far, far, away. I enjoy Westerns because of the plots where righteous gunfighters find their resolution on the streets of the town in a gunfight. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for the spaghetti westerns he scored with Clint Eastwood as the star is one of those things I play when I feel the need for inner strength. It was why when independent perfumer Amber Jobin told me her new release, Aether Arts Perfume Gunsmoke & Roses, was a Wild West perfume I was hooked.

Amber Jobin

The description on the website calls it a masculine floral. It is that. Except while I was wearing it, I was reminded of one of my favorite modern Westerns; 1995’s “The Quick and the Dead”. In that story Sharon Stone plays “The Lady” who comes to town to enter a single elimination gunfighting tournament. As with all these movies she is in town to settle scores along the way. Which she does in a smoky haze of dynamite and bullets. As much as Gunsmoke & Roses is meant to be a masculine floral it also reminded me strongly of The Lady who combined being a woman with some tough as nails gunfighting skills.

I enjoy some odd real smells. One of them is the scent of gun oil. I’ve been around family members and friends who own guns. The smell of the gun cabinet is not gunpowder and brass; it is the sheen of gun oil on every piece of metal. It has a rich slightly sweet smell. Ms. Jobin finds that right from the start. Its as if The Lady is taking care of her pistol after the first round of the tournament. There is the precise faint gunpowder accord Ms. Jobin adds in here. This is subtle and it reminded me strongly of the way a weapon smells after it has been put away after use. The promised roses come next. These are not your typical opulent rose, hence the masculine floral descriptor. It is a rose with a gin-soaked bite via juniper. As The Lady looks down at the rose in one hand and the bottle of gin in the other, another round of the tournament plays out on the street below. The smell of smoke rises to her window. Ms. Jobin uses choya ral, birch tar, and patchouli to capture the gunsmoke accord. The Lady does a slow clap for the victor; tossing the rose to him while toasting with the bottle of gin before she takes a swig.

Gunsmoke & Roses has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Ms. Jobin has spent the last year or so in high-concept perfumes which appealed to me for their audacious attempts to reach for the frontiers of what independent perfumery could be. Gunsmoke & Roses hearkens back to a different frontier in more realistic terms. You might not want to smell like High Noon in Dodge City but I sure do.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Burner Perfume No. 10 Chrysalis- Taking Wing

Every September for the last six years I look forward to an envelope in the mail with a Colorado postmark. It means one of my favorite independent perfumers has renewed herself at the annual Burning Man festival. For Amber Jobin of Aether Arts Perfume this means a new Burner Perfume is here.

Amber Jobin

Ms. Jobin has always used perfume as her contribution to the spontaneous society which springs up on the playa every summer. It has been the source of some of her very best creations because these are fragrances which are born of passion and intellect. Ms. Jobin uses each year’s theme as the jumping off point for that year’s Burner Perfume. For 2019 the Burning Man theme was “Metamorphoses”.  The way Ms. Jobin chose to interpret that was to imagine the process which gives us a Monarch butterfly. Specifically the forming of the chrysalis as the caterpillar nears its change into winged beauty. That is where Aether Arts Perfume Burner Perfume No. 10 Chrysalis comes from.

Ms. Jobin was inspired by the color of the chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly which is a lacquered green. To translate that into a perfume she uses a set of fantastically different green notes before allowing the beginning of the transformation to be represented through the later development.

When I say green opening it would be normal to think of the grassy notes or the leafier ones, perhaps grapefruit. This is where I enjoy independent perfumers, they think green but in the case of Ms. Jobin she goes on a tangent. Her green top accord consists of tomato leaf, aldehydes, rhubarb, and green coffee. The sulfurous quality of rhubarb with the oiliness of the green coffee harmonizes with the acerbic tomato leaf and the aldehydes to create a vivid green accord which captures the color of that chrysalis. The stirring of the creature within is represented by a transitory floral green as violet and clover form the heart. This is a softer green than the top accord with violet signaling a change. The base is a brilliant accord of musks capturing the butterfly inside with a subtle animalic effect.

Chrysalis has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage because it is at extrait strength.

Chrysalis is another brilliant perfume from an independent perfumer who allows her imagination to take wing with the Monarch butterflies who inspired her.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Exobotany Series- Across the Universe

Of the many things I cherish about the independent perfume community; the option to follow your creative urging wherever it leads is near the top. When it really comes together for me is when those perfumers color outside of the lines. Making perfume which is adventurous and intelligent. The Aether Arts Perfume Exobotany Series is a continuation of the recent work, in that vein, by perfumer Amber Jobin.

Amber Jobin

It seems to me that Ms. Jobin’s imagination was nudged in a new direction when she composed 2017’s Touchstone. That was meant to represent a smartphone. A year later she followed up with The AI Series which explored the nature of artificial intelligence over three remarkable perfumes. For the Exobotany Series we are traveling to three planets where Ms. Jobin imagines what they would smell like. Each planetscape provides a new scented horizon to explore.

Garden on a Far Planet– In this iteration we arrive in the tropical zone of the planet. There is a burgeoning green quality. Ms. Jobin captures the sweeter nature of dense greenery along with the expected vegetal beats. Underneath it all is a rocky mineral-like accord representing the surface of this new world. The interplay between the rockiness and the greenness is captivating.

Specimen 3– Our landing craft finds a slope covered in flowers to set down upon. As we step outside the craft the metallic tang of our craft settles into the floral riot in front of us. Ms. Jobin has found a malleable metallic accord over those perfumes I mentioned earlier. It is on display again here with it providing a chilly metal container for the florals.

Specimen 9– That metallic accord returns here. It acts as a vein of metal through a stony escarpment. We stand on a thick layer of topsoil which has some lichens and flowers growing. Ms. Jobin uses patchouli to form an intergalactic soil which the metallic accord runs through. Rose and moss provide the contrast of plant life in hues of red and green.

All three perfumes are further evidence of the active mind Ms. Jobin is bringing to her perfume making. You might read the descriptions above and think these seem too experimental. As I wore these, I learned that they are all very wearable wonderful extraterrestrial accents. If you want to know why independent perfumery so vital go across the universe with the Exobotany Series.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Burner Perfume No. 9A, 9B, & 9C: The AI Series- Intelligent Perfumery

All independent perfumers carry their own unique inspiration into their fragrances. Amber Jobin’s inspiration is renewed every year when she attends the Burning Man festival. As her part of the community she has a stand called “The Olfactorium” where she dispenses a perfume designed for each year’s theme called Burner Perfume. I came to know her through Burner Perfume No. 2 A Roll in the Grass. She has been one of the most wondrously imaginative perfumers because of this. That was on full display in last year’s Touchstone where she made a perfume out of our smartphone. This year’s overall theme at Burning Man was “I, Robot”. This led to not one but three Burner perfumes for her Aether Arts Perfume brand which she calls “The AI Series”.

Amber Jobin at The Olfactorium

In her accompanying notes Ms. Jobin mentions she has been fascinated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and was waiting for an opportunity to interpret it as a perfume. As I smelled each of her three perfumes, they felt like the evolution of our smartphones which means to me they are the next generation of what Ms. Jobin began in Touchstone.

Burner Perfume No. 9A Machine Intelligence– This is meant to capture the processes which happen within the shell. It is made up of three accords. First comes a metallic accord combined with the smell of electricity as it flows through circuits. On top of this Ms. Jobin creates an expansive aether accord. It has a peek-a-boo effect as it seems to dart in and out of the metal and electricity. This is the most fragile perfume Ms. Jobin has ever made. It is appropriate as it captures something as ephemeral as a thought coming together.  

Burner Perfume No. 9B Android– This is Ms. Jobin’s idea of what we will rely on when AI advances so that the artificial is not able to be discerned visually. She thinks we will be able to use our nose. Android is what she thinks these beings will smell like. First it is the power source accord from 9A, but she has added something musky to it to make it a richer version. It is matched with the smell of the plastics and resins made to look like skin along with a very synthetic accord meant to represent the fluids running through the interior of the robot.

Burner Perfume No. 9C Synthetic Sex– This perfume is the idea of what AI might mean to our most personal interaction, sex. As we become more isolated in our AI cocoons, do we lose the humanity over the physical contact. To do this Ms. Jobin tweaks that metallic power source accord by making this one a bit spikier along with a processed air accord she calls “virtual space”. It reminded me of the smell of entering a room where the air is filtered to death. It is chilly, impersonal, and isolating. The only warmth is that electrical accord. It ends with the release of orgasm under these circumstances leaving a funky musky accord lying inside a hermetically sealed room.

Over the past year and a half Ms. Jobin has really been influenced by her artistic impulses. The perfumes since the release of Touchstone show an artist at work. The AI Series is another in that line of creativity proving there is nothing artificial about Ms. Jobin’s intelligent perfumery.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Daydream in Blue- Fulfilled Desire

On my recent visit to Boulder, Colorado I finally had the opportunity to spend some time with independent perfumer Amber Jobin. We have corresponded digitally over many years. This was the first time we were in the same place where we could relax. One of the things about independent perfumery is that through an artist’s perfumes you can get a picture of who they are. Ms. Jobin exceeded what I expected to find.

Ms. Jobin has come to perfumery through the crucible of the yearly Burning Man event. She has attended for several years and began offering custom fragrance blends as part of her contribution to the temporary society the event represents. She also creates a distinct “Burner” perfume each year based on the theme of the given year. It was through these early fragrances I became aware of her. As a student of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, and now a colleague in her Essense Studio, Ms. Jobin was uncommonly polished in her early work. If there is a common aesthetic that ties her perfumes together it is curious intelligence; which might be redundant. Ms. Jobin has been able to distill the abstract into perfume. At its base it is what all perfumers are doing. It is just Ms. Jobin does it with a little more verve. Of her most recent releases Aether Arts Perfume Daydream in Blue displays this.

(l. to r.) Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Me, Amber Jobin

The perfume was inspired by the song “Daydream in Blue” by the band I Monster. Ms. Jobin realized it was a song about daydreaming while in a field of wildflowers, but this reverie is a sexual one. It is unrequited because the dreamer’s partner is only present in the imagination. Ms. Jobin imagines the dreamer having an actual partner for whom that desire can be acted upon amongst the literal birds and bees doing their work pollinating things. She says in her press release, “I loved the idea of a pretty experience wrapped around a deeply erotic one.” This is exactly that.

The early moments of Daydream in Blue set the stage with a gentle floral accord matched with some of the grassy ingredients. It is a sun dappled meadow. Through an incredibly constructed accord Ms. Jobin captures the entire experience of making love outside. Her main accord is comprised of deer musk, civet, and costus. It is the balance she achieves with that last note that brings the whole thing together. Costus is a tricky note to get right. For Ms. Jobin she actually wanted to capture a fully realized erotic moment which means the smell of semen on sun warmed skin. I can hear some readers thinking that doesn’t sound great. Ms. Jobin has an ability to find beauty out of what I described. It especially comes home when the florals and grassy notes reappear around that animalic accord as nature returns after passion.

Daydream in Blue has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is what sets independent perfumery apart. The ability for a perfumer to take on a subject like this. I giggle to myself when I imagine one of those people spritzing perfume trying to describe this as they hand a strip to a mallgoer. This is perfume for those of us who see it as an art form as well as something to make us smell pleasant. Daydream in Blue succeeds on both of those levels. I adore much of what Ms. Jobin has created over the years but this one has also exceeded my expectations fulfilling desires of all sorts.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

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