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A sandal-wood heavy composition that creates a rich aura around the wearer.
This is an odd one for me, as I find it to be relatively tame given the insinuation of its moniker. It sits somewhere between woody oriental and green aromatic, but I mainly get sandalwood from it with some incense that arrives in the dry down.
There's a subtle nuttiness that's detectable in the opening, which is a standard attribute of natural sandalwood, but it's surprising to pick up on this aspect so early in the evolution as it tends to be reserved for use more as a base than as a central feature. And when faced with notes of cedarwood and cypress, I usually expect an astringent sharpness, but here the greenery is oddly dialed back. A subtle smokiness suggests that amyris might be the material of choice, but the creamy, nutty quality of mysore is also prevalent. Either way, the volume of the wood and the relative reticence of the greenery conjures an impression of a sawmill or a lumber yard rather than a coniferous forest. Although there are no animalics listed in the notes, there is a slight muskiness that perhaps comes from the cannabis (sativa) as it draws parallels to Blackbird's prominent weed note. So upfront, it's a rich, nutty sandalwood with subtle glimpses of the green notes sprouting through.
And this is what threw me a little with this scent. For a walk-in-the-woods type of fragrance, Alpha seems to be missing some key coniferous components. Yet once the sandalwood settles, the greens emerge a little more through the use of oakmoss which wafts in and out throughout the scent's lifespan. This had me thinking about other all-natural forest floor perfumes, and it occurred to me that while the full recreation of a headspace would make more sense, it's been done by others so many times that what Matriarch offers is something quite out of the blue. And as the scent settles further and some of the initial creaminess begins to disperse, the incense and copal appear—the inverse of the way you might expect such notes to evolve in perfumery. This stage works very well indeed, with the slightly peanut-y, sandalwood merged with a fantastic, airy layer of bone dry, smoky incense that crackles and hangs as if suspended above the balmy base. Alpha settles into a skin scent, projecting only at close range, and, as with others from the line, makes itself known through occasional wafts and glimpses of the greens. Like other natural perfumes, the scent hugs the wearer rather than bounding off into the world—it's quite subtle and reserved in this respect, which is hardly alpha male type behavior.
Although I'm not sure this one's for me, it would certainly appeal to those who enjoy natural sandalwood-centric fragrances. Richwood springs to mind as a possible analog, but that scent is hinged upon its prominent rose note, and Matriarch's offering is generally more expressionistic in its structure compared to Xerjoff's clinical precision. This would be a scent well suited for someone who wants a more free-wheeling twist on the woody aromatic genre, and its most striking feature is when the sandalwood and the incense converge. If you happen to enjoy creamy sandalwood scents, then Alpha would be a good consideration. But if you're truly an aplha male and you're after some über-powerhouse '70s masculine forest scent, you might look elsewhere as this particular Alpha is far more sensitive than it initially appears.
Pros: The dry down convergence of sandalwood and copal/incense is amazing.
03 August, 2013