mb03 (Biehl Parfumkunstwerke)

The one thing I dislike about standard Catholic church incense is its density, its shrill opacity. One little puff is enough to fill a cathedral and generate a hundred migraines. It's too much of a good thing; despite the pain it causes, it smells good. Mark Buxton knows this, and found a way to strip people of their painful psychological associations using spicy and floral notes with traditional three kings incense. mb03 is the result, probably unnecessary and definitely unoriginal (it's self-referential for Mark), but still a very nice fragrance.

Tom Ford's Sahara Noir, an incredibly literal Catholic incense perfume, is very rich and dense and dry. Its problem? You guessed it - too much goodness, especially in a concentration that lasts twelve hours on skin, and sixteen on clothes. Incense doesn't have to smell that blatant. Blended incense is an extremely complex aroma with several facets, including resinous-sweet, resinous-woody, resinous-green, dry-papery, dry-floral, and dry-woody qualities, and mb03 is an exploration of woody, green, and floral elements. Top notes of pink pepper and elemi lend a spicy-green characteristic to a heart accord of chamomile, styrax, patchouli, and labdanum, a bundle of sheer dryness, full-bodied and fresh. I also smell subtle touches of Cashmeran, Iso E-Super, and Ambroxan, which emit a low-buzz "woody" vibe from the organ pit, but its base of sandalwood and raw incense smells simply of those two components.

Word on the street says mb03 is a lot like Comme des Garcons 2 Man and Buxton's own Around Midnight, along with a handful of other scents, most of which can be had for less money. This is probably true, but it's good to remember that the fragrance world is huge and overloaded with perfumes that are similar to each other. Many items are not available in certain countries. Those who missed CDG 2 Man and Around Midnight might encounter mb03 instead, either at home or in their travels, and it makes for a superb introduction to this perfumer's love of wood sap and blue smoke.

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