|The Bitterness of Greens, rukuku|
You sit on the chamomile lawn, threading a daisy chain. Periodically you lean forward to pluck another bloom from the hedge. Pressure from the movement releases waves of scent from the chamomile. The sunlight sparks off every leaf this morning, rendering the world vivid green dotted with white. Wind ruffles your hair, tussles all the foliage in the convent garden, bringing with it the scent of jasmine from a nearby bower, orange blossom and something else that you cannot identify, all smelling a little over-ripe. Another gust and something lands in your lap. A photo. You examine it. It is a little singed around the edges and it takes a moment for you recognise yourself. You have not seen this image in decades. Adrenalin rushes. Your gut turns. Looking around, you begin to tremble…
Al Rehab Aroosah (ARA) is Lush Lust if it were created by a madman whose main objective was to create something instantly dislikeable. If you quit ARA after the initial olfactory slap of this scent, you will be missing out. Brace yourself, power through for about five minutes and you meet the something totally different, unlike anything else you have ever encountered. To say ARA is a weird fragrance to a Western nose, is to vastly understate the situation but the Moth Woman suspects the strangeness maybe due to cultural differences rather than aesthetics. This will absolutely not be the fragrance that converts you to dirty florals but if you already love them, it will definitely spice up the affair.
The first five minutes consist of a bracing melange of crushed pyrethrum daisy-like notes, sugary sweetness, unnameable white flowers, jasmine, hints of musk and indole. After this, it smooths out, not losing the initial bitterness but pulling it back into the chorus. The acrid edge bolsters the indole and makes this brew something extraordinary and very original. As it evolves, there is some chamomile without the apple edge appears and something of the herb garden. A Fragrantica reviewer described ARA as smelling like India. The Moth Woman thinks this may be apt and imagines this scent must smell like the huge French marigold (Tagetes) garlands they sell at festivals.
An hour in and indolic jasmine, powder and hints of marigold petals dominate. By two hours, the volume has halved. Three hours and the mix becomes less jasmine dominant. The crushed daisy/marigold becomes more and more backgrounded. Caramel notes emerge and what, for want of a better descriptor, brittle sugar (think the crust on a fresh toffee apple). The inclusion of sweet elements in this scent is surprising but works well, in the same way pouring absinthe over a sugar cube makes the wormwood more palatable. At the four-hour mark, a sweet/sharp musk takes over but quietly, at skin level. The musk in question is as outstandingly different as the rest of this mix, like honey and pine buds. ARA is still perceptible more than 12hrs later.
The Moth Woman encountered a comment on the Basenotes forum a while back: “there are no bad smells only smells you don't like.” This applies here. ARA is polarising but rewards those who are prepared to give the different a try.
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