One of my favorite books is “The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe. It chronicles the adventures of Ken Kesey and his band of counterculture heroes The Merry Pranksters as they travel on their bus. They used LSD and other psychedelics to see what they could learn from the trip or “test”. One of the trio of debut fragrances from Malbrum called Psychotrope is its own version of a perfume “test”.
Creative director Kristian Hilberg and perfumer Delphine Thierry were interested in creating a very synthetic fragrance experience with Psychotrope. Mme Thierry combines some of the more expansive synthetic aromachemicals to evoke a mind-expanding experience. Through the first few months of 2015 I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of perfumes which are wearing their synthetic building blocks in an overt way. I have noticed in these perfumes that these synthetic materials provide a prominent post-modern feel. Psychotrope achieves this vibe by letting the synthetics fill up every available space leaving nothing else to experience.
Psychotrope opens with a powerful slug of cypress. There is no gentle warm-up as Mme Thierry lets it hit you with a woody rush swathed in pimento and elemi. You’ll have to hunt for those because the cypress really does push everything out of its way. Cashmeran forms the core of the heart and it also dominates the landscape. This time the other notes of incense and saffron find a way to shade the power down a couple notches. The saffron sometimes feels like a hallucination as it tends to flit in and out on my skin. When it is there it really completes the heart. Into the base Ambrinol and Timbersilk form a smooth woody foundation enhanced with a sandalwood synthetic. This is where the synthetics really feel like they are filling up every bit of the olfactory horizon. Mme Thierry manages to achieve this effect without letting these aromachemicals become so dominant it feels like a perfume chemistry project. On the contrary it seems once you have a certain amount of synthetics in a professional perfumer’s hands these intense notes find another softer form. This is the third perfume in the first six months of 2015 I have observed this effect with. These focused synthetics can form something unexpectedly delicate without forfeiting structure. It makes wearing these perfumes an interesting experience.
Psychotrope has 18-24 hour longevity and average sillage.
I don’t have a preference in the never-ending debate of synthetic v. natural. My preference is for interesting compositions and both deliver that experience to me. Psychotrope is another all-synthetic perfume which has opened my eyes to the real potential of what can be achieved in skilled hands. Mme Thierry and Psychotrope have expanded my perfumed mind.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Malbrum at Esxence 2015.