Transcends perfume as commercial product. Or simply something that smells nice. Transends perfume as craft or art even. It manages to capture the entire cultural, sacral, ritual dimension of incense and incense burning, the presence of the divine, the link to a higher realm, the spiritual becoming one with the animalic. Completely uncomprimising, one of the greatest olfactory statements ever on the human condition. Beautiful, beatitude, a moment of experiencing, unadulterated, the "terrible sublime" that is the cosmos and our existence.
Incense by Norma Kamali opens with a buckload of black, sticky, warm oil pouring straight out of a reservoir, pungent and ultra dense, the Holy Grail of biomechanicism fetishists. I have a friend who is crazy for Ballard and his "Crash" and all that human-machine eroticism, I instantly thought of him. Tobacco notes, wet and humid, a slight fruity vibe and obviously an incense cloud, so black, dusty, dense, organic and cloying you won't even recognize it at first. A beautiful chorus of nuances, from dusty to rancid, to even floral and balsamic, but most of all, a tar-like industrial heaviness. Black and sticky like some of the blacker, stickier Slumberhouse scents, just less experimental and less "de-structured": more of a simple buckload of this ultra-dense decaying blackness. The mood is again that same post-atomic urban decay, with a mechanic/industrial feel, as this is more close to the smell of oils, tar, production wastes. Some notes I get from this epitome-of-gloominess: woods, green poisonous notes, some "heavy" floral notes like perhaps narcissus, frankincense, labdanum, ambroxan... that's what I smell, but I may be completely wrong, it's like rescuing birds from contaminated sea – they're all black and sticky. It does not evolve much, it just kind of gets drier and denser, like a piece of black wood drying under the sun. To be really honest, as far as I admire the composition, I can not come to get excited for this an to really "love" this (as I expected). I love incense, but here is so (brilliantly!) turned into a gigantic, heavy industrial fog, with an oily, indolic materic density and a touch of decadent rancid notes, that it's just a bit too much for me, I mean to make me want to actually wear it. It's utterly fascinating and well-done, one of the purest black compositions I have ever tried, with an unforgiving dry cedar-birch drydown which persists for ages, but I like this more as a "smell", as a creation to smell it per se, without wearing it. Not for everyone and sadly not for me either, but apart from this, superb.
This stuff is biblical. It is powerful. It is a touchstone upon which all incense fragrances must bow. I am glad I have a small amount of this in my fragrance library to treasure for years. A little dab'll do ya for sure. It's the best incense fragrance I have ever encountered.
31st March, 2014 (last edited: 09th April, 2014)
This is the epitome of a great incense fragrance. Norma Kamali Incense is other worldly and it's an absolute shame that it's been discontinued.
Top notes are brash combination of dry/cut wood and almost a pine tar/turpentine smell that subsides over quite some time and give way to a wonderful semi-sweet labdanum/frankincense/myrrh combination. NK is atomic in terms of both projection...longevity and sillage with day long staying power. Not for the faint of heart, but for every true lover of incense fragrances.
best incense perfume period
My shortest review ever.
Straight up frankensense and myrrh. Lasts 24 hours plus. Great projection. Pretty linear but who cares with this beauty? Simultaneously dry, smoky and a touch sweet. One drop is all you need. If there is a holy grail, this may be it.
Pros: long lasting and powerful
Cons: almost impossible to find"