Friday, April 14, 2017

Where to settle my throne: an overview on Sultan Pasha attars; part I

Photo provided by Sultan Pasha

The policy of seeding market with fragrant luxury tagged with astrological prices with excuse of artistic ideas and high-end exclusives that gives you chance to smell entirely unique stuff, is a new fever of this last years. And ironically, instead of few, most of new-brand houses in this grand bazaar do not survive enough to impress a customer for next purchase of a certain perfume. In such crowded market which looks like an underground performance hall with low ceiling, loud noises and bothersome lights somebody's dancing waltz like nobody is there. He's Sultan Pasha who have introduced his house of attar oils in 2012 and immediately got many positive feedback from perfumistas and renown bloggers.

Yes, they're that tiny, tiny bombs!

Attars and mukhalats are parallel world to typical alcohol-based perfumery. They have their own market, their own customer even their own social media where oud oils, vetiver oils, and many other oils and extracts are sold in small vials with different prices from Mercury to Neptune. Sultan Pasha? He precisely is the linking rope of this two worlds: a self-made attar perfumer based in London who delivers a sense of antiquity with his enchanting oils.

Attars are thick oily compositions of perfumery without any ingredient of dilution. Yes I mean heavily thick like honey or denser. They unfurl with rubbing on skin where body temperature is higher like wrists, under ears, neck, back of knee. As I explained before on Amouage Homage attars are concoctions to show skillfulness and knowledge of creator nose. They are reputation of traditional Middle Eastern perfumery and the very ancestors of today's perfumery.

Sultan Pasha kindly sent me pack of small tubes of oils wrapped in a folded paper which holds emblem of Ottoman empire at top and includes list of names of compositions. Since they are many, I just introduce some of them in this post and postpone the ones with greater impact in later articles separately.

Photo by David Marguet

Ambrecuir grabs my attention and I bet every animalic geek like me, because of great volume of animalic and semi-animalic vibes it explodes on skin. This is a bulky symphony of animality not in irritating way of Peau de Bête but in an ancient and original format. In an almost-close similarity it shares some aspects with Lorenzo Villoresi's authentic labdanum in his Alamut.
Ambrecuir opens with a dense blast of fat smoky, ambrosial and spicy floral whole. It's integrated, softly powdery, earthy, fuliginous and suede. From beginning murmured noise of something enlarging-by-time is coming and it's a giant labdanum and resins. Sort of skanky animality which I truly die for, ornaments the edges of this play in a coherence with a genuine labdanum. Ambrecuir is an extravagant play of resins, florals and sweet animality. A generous handful of labdanum patch with great longevity on skin and medium projection. If you seize oriental animalic resinous or animalic floral works you would definitely enjoy this warm seductive scent.

Photo taken from

Al Lail (also could be written Al Layl) means The Night in Arabic. This is what I truly dislike, to be honest. Yet the quality of notes and loyalty of perfumer to originality of composition is admirable. It opens with an over-ripe orange which I hate both smell and taste, but the orange is entirely there with even sticker tag of producer farm on its peel! Beside this there's a warm sun-exposed floral sweetness and soft sparkling jasmine and neroli. The orange shifts gradually to ripe peach; ripe and mouthwatering smooth peaches which sharpest knives mash. This flat sweet warm and sunny surface goes to join a grown rose and patchouli in base where it reaches ultimate ripe fruity tone. Unfortunately it's so strong in longevity and I really don't like it on me! But if you like warm dry fruity scents don't lose it.

Photo taken from Pinterest

Tabac Grande in simple words is Chergui made by Slumberhouse. Strength and potent play of notes in unity with a whole left me speechless. Simple, straightforward, instant like a thunder. An impressive tobacco. This is what I was looking for long to refer as a real tobacco smell. Opens with a golden hay like mid-summer meadow under August sun's blade, and smell of yummy boozy aromatic pipe tobacco. Not a dry tobacco, a bit wet and sloppy, smelling both bewitching and annoying. A compilation of floral notes of rose, immortelle and osmanthus plus cacao amplify sweetness of this composition while hay, an army of animalic notes, and woods insists on bitterness. This is an old tobacco shop, with dark and low-lighted interior. Tabac Grande is a greasy bitter tobacco and a good replacement for Tobacco Vanille, Slumberhouse Jeke, and Une Nuit a Doha.

Nasir ol'Molk mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Aurum d'Angkhor is a focal point here we should stop a while. This composition is the very very smell of Islamic shrines and it immediately evokes a religious ambiance. You can frequently smell it in perfume oil shops in grand bazaars in neighborhood of a big Islamic shire, mosque, etc. Specially in Middle Eastern regions. But the truth is in fifteen and sixteen centuries this composition is brought from India to Iran and Arab peninsula. There are documents revealing interrelationship between Safavid empire and eastern civilizations like India. Therefore, no matter how much we insist on the title which refers to capital of Khmer empire, I have bright memories of very this smell in Iran.
Aurum d'Angkhor opens with an oriental waxy floral theme composed of heavy-duty jasmine, sweet neroli, a touch of honey and rose, a lot of rose. Did I mentioned how much I dislike this scent? This is just matter of culture and region, no offense to anyone. While such performance is highly commanded in Europe, for me it lights on bad memories of past. Eight years of war and martyr after martyr. Sorry guys but this in my heart registers olfactory synonym of death.
Back to topic, this pinky gold oozy floral introduction is softened by smoky fruity play of tobacco and animalic play of ambergris. In fact the nose puts his best to bring an original concoction and he fully succeeded.

Photo taken from Lézardes et Murmures

Violette Noyée makes me double surprised. Not only because of its sheer earthy render, but also because I have not seen violets in attar perfumery before. I should say this is damn marvelous! Violette Noyée opens with an unbearably beautiful touch of iris and violet in a celestial musky dress. That's not all. The duet of soprano voice of earth is strengthen by an army of earthy flora: ylang ylang for a luxurious warm base, lilac and muguets for soft poetic sweetness, mimosa to maintain bitterness, and heliotrope to duplicate more earthy render.
Violette Noyée dries down in a soapy chypre identity with tender woody amber and light animalic nuance that brings a muted luxury; no exposure, no bold facet. It's modest yet full-bodied. A similar to such beauty is only found (if match hundred percent) in Mona di Orio works. In a general scoop it's a floral woody musk fragrance. A European composition made in attar density. A new triumph and innovation.

Photo by David Marguet

Vetiver Blanc is a distinct case of vetiver apart from the trend Guerlain and Tom Ford are involved. It's something unique, deeply apothecal and ancient. A synonym of such blend can be found only in works of O'Driù, or Turtle Vetiver collection of Les Nez.
Its first hour presents an intense soapy, dark, chypre-inclining, green floral and resinous play. Tuberose roughly ground in a stone pot mixed with unbloomed gardenia and galbanum and probably a tiny drop of hesperidic bergamot. All mingled in earthy warm vetiver accord that has too many facets. It's like a lot of vetiver, unwashed and just harvested from mud. Smells healthy and totally natural like organic products sold in soap shops. I like this one. I love vetiver in many shapes but his one, in spite of coarse smoky earthiness, gives me a sense of trust and comfort. It's a multi-seasonal, raw, nature-loving and angular vetiver. An impure vetiver.

Painting by Nan Cunningham

White Ginger Lily is the one I own a sample from a trio collection named Jardin de Bornéo. It's a peppery green aromatic floral that opens light in a similarity to some works of The Different Company. With a measured touch of lavender, civet, and vetiver it elaborately exhibits a classic green vibe that faintly reminds me Edmond Roudnitska's legendary Eau Sauvage and green woody mossy Chanel Antaeus. Nevertheless, it stays alone with a touch of woody, oudy, ambergris, foundation that swallows floral opening of top. I wished for stronger projection, tenacity is fair but sillage could be better. As long as the quality is guaranteed, who cares how far the scent flies?!

Photo taken by Inge Prader

Rêve Narcotique's provocative title promises for deep sensations and strong juxtapositions of warm notes, and as I guessed it's a peppery ambergris with bitter tobacco upholstered by spiky honey and green gardenia and tuberose. An earthy fat rendition unveils from a colossal-yet-playing-behind-curtains animality. It's castoreum served as scaffolding beside a thick resinous play of the same grade.
Caraway and woodsy amber base give the top a sense of antiquity with reminiscent odor of old carpet and dusted things in a low-light-catching attic room. Rêve Narcotique is a balsamic and animalic woody fragrance with vibrant ambrosial facets. It's a half-way chypre that its woodsy features enlarged.

Persian Gol o Morgh (flower and bird) painting

Shamamah is a balsamic fragrance for no particular reason I cannot decypher it. Or maybe I just can connect to it. It's a thick resinous and earthy fragrance with semi-spicy features. Labdanum is so prominent but there's something else. Something that brings a gastronomic twist. It's swirls in an out of resinous column. It also keeps the whole away from smoky incense vibe, keeps it almost wet and syrupy. I'm not sure what I'm sniffing, but the main theme is warm, kind of skanky animalic, kind of kinky and corrupt! In a way it evokes lost sensations like a faint memory. Just allow me to mention "the very base demonstrates a luxurious musky aura that expands on skin like a gilded surface", and excuse to skip over this one cause it's not a typical scent to decode in words.

Photo taken by Linda Sundqvist

Thebes; let's simply call it Thebes. It's full name is Thebes Grade 1. A colossal fragrance and another point we should stop a while. The main feature that comes to sight in attar perfumery is these compositions' distinct smells compared to typical perfumery. An indolic flower can truly be raspy and a ingredient you usually love can suddenly turn to a zombie. In such area of work the rules of typical fragrance making might be insufficient. You need new boundaries of knowledge to handle quality and tenacity.
Thebes is the one I have had a bad experience few days ago. Just to gain time for this post, I wore it on my wrist in gym which was truly a bad idea! By elevation of my body temperature during exercise something really uncontrollable happened on me! The scent duplicated and enlarged in power. The beginning of Thebes is literally heady, bizarre and repulsing with extremely indolic aldehydic dimensions. You almost need over five hours to calm down brutal jasmine, rose, aldehyde notes, and musky tone. Aftermath the blend gets softer with a touch of vetiver and kind of incognito, yet strong animality. Surely this is not my cup of tea at all, but I'm sure animalic lovers would dig it.

Attar oils display natural ingredients pure and raw faces, far from our perception of ingredients upon typical perfumery. The scents according to their sources vary in purity or impurity and this is why impressions on these products are usually deep and uncertain. Sultan Pasha is a new face in our olfactory environment, a talented perfumer who knows roots and origins of this artisanal craftsmanship.
To avoid longing the post, I categorized his perfumes in several posts. I will update and discuss iris, rose and incense in his works in different posts. Be updated!

Carpe Odor!

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