God knows Amouage have done the 'go big or go home' style masculine fragrances before. In fact they are some of the line's most successful perfumes. Hybrid vigor, Amouage's implicit goal, has led to beautiful fragrances that highlight traditional Eastern materials and Western compositional methods.
The sensibility that results from this hybrid has seldom been timid and Interlude Man is a beast, but a lovely one. Contemporary men's fragrances, niche and mainstream alike, often use a particular set of woody notes to imply masculinity. This limited vocabulary has drawbacks. Firstly, these notes are usually created from a range of aromachemicals that, when left alone, smell like chemicals. Secondly, without padding, without other notes to fill the empty spaces and round out the angles, men's fragrances often smell alike and lack nuance. Interlude avoids this mistake and is aromatic, expensive, nuanced, complex and capital-B Beautiful.
Line up Interlude with Amouage's other classic masculines (Dia, Ciel, Epic...) and the family resemblance, based largely in their use of incense, is easy to see. The real point of comparison for Interlude, though is the best of the men's Power Fragrances from the 1980s. They're sometimes referred to as knuckle dragging simpletons, but the best of them were simultaneously loud, beautiful and subtle. YSL Kouros was an orange-flower beauty. Hermès Bel Ami wrapped leather in violet and gasoline. Chanel Antaeus had aromatic top notes and lunged at you like a coke-head on aldehydes. Dior Jules and Caron Third Man emphasized the ruggedness of the fougère by smothering it in aromatic and floral notes. Lauder for Men hid its gruffness behind a very pretty muguet note.
Interlude is most similar to the BFFs of the time, the Big Fucking Fougères. It doesn't share the genres defining lavender/coumarin mix, but it balances bass and baritone notes with durable higher pitched notes. Like the BFFs it has a broad spectrum harmony that lasts from start to finish. You don't just hear the high-pitched notes in the top notes, and you don't get the lower register notes only in the bass notes. The harmony last from top to bottom. The similarity to the fougère genre lies in its aromatic quality. Where an aromatic fougère might use geranium or some other leafy green, Interlude uses oregano.
Oregano! Maybe not the greatest selling point points in a list of notes, but extremely successful in bringing a green expansive quality to a woody perfume. A bit of patchouli seems to integrate the oregano, so that it doesn't suggest pizza or a sore thumb. Incense jumps out from first sniff, but the rest of the woody tone is an interesting blend. Oud? Sandalwood? There is a warm, leathery, dusty quality in the basenotes that just purrs.
Interlude's combination of boldness and complexity differentiates it from the dull crowd of most contemporary woody fragrances and links it to the best of the 1980s. Vive le power frag
Not as bad as the first time I tried it. I got a real good 4 spray wearing out of my sample the other day, and I do think it's a nice fragrance.
The opening is a bit confusing. Cotton candy.. seriously, yes Amouage does cotton candy. Actually a few Amouage's I have tried have surprised me with very synthetic candy-like openings, and this is one of them. Within 20 minutes or so it settles down into more of a birch tar, smokey incense. I pick up on the oud later on in the dry down, especially when I spray it on clothing, that's where the oud really shines.
Overall, I give it a hesitant thumbs up, because of its unique style, power, and longevity. It takes risks, but it doesn't go too out of bounds with it, like another fragrance that's sort of in its same league, which is Jeke by Slumberhouse. They mouth have this weird "barbeque meat/old tea bag" note, but in Interlude Man, it works well!
This is would be a sure thumbs up if the price was lower. I understand niche is a luxury item, but some of these companies really gouge you for what you get, no bottle of any fragrance should cost more than 150 bucks direct from the manufacturer. I've dabbled in fragrance making quite a bit, and have made some good high quality stuff that smelled comparable to the high end niche stuff, and it didn't cost me more than $20 to make, and that's for 10 oz worth. Unfortunately sometimes a fragrance is just that damn good, and there's no way to avoid the cost, and while I should practice what I preach, I myself have succumbed to the gouging, for fragrances that I really wanted.
On me, Interlude man is dominated by a mix of smoky frankincense and lightly dusty oak, made quite sweet with a pinch of red cedar. There's a thick base of what I think is mostly ambrox and iso e super, with swirls of sweet amber and chocolate, which is concentrated enough to lend richness from the start of the scent, which is good for a perfume of this price.
Smoky iso e super incense and woods have been done a LOT - even Amouage itself has the superior Jubilation XXV - so the appeal of Interlude Man comes down to the clever juxtaposition of sweet woods and chocolate. I personally don't like the combination very much, but I can see how this could easily be grail material for people who fall in love with its cleverness.
Where Memoir Man falls short, Interlude Man gets it right. The traditional masculine notes of woods, leather and tobacco are replaced by amber and resins. The result is an astonishing blend of incense and sweetness that is a unique olfactory experience. It seems to project more and last longer even than most other Amouages.
The structure of Interlude Man is of a classic leather-velvety fougère with herbal and incense notes (on the polished-synthetic-woody side), reminding me of other contemporary niche fougères for man like Fetish pour Homme by Roja Dove. Decent and pleasantly plain, and a bit derivative too, as it basically smells like the drydown of any leathery masculine scent from the '70s or the '80s, even if (obviously, I'd say) less powerful and compelling. Nonetheless, it is surely balanced and pleasant, the leather is refreshed by balsamic notes and softened by incense, green notes and a hint of amber - all a bit plain and synthetic to my nose to be honest, but pleasant, refined and classy ("it smells expensive", shortly). Given the pretenses and the price, it's just not that worth it in my opinion.