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Wazamba – Incense and Apples – March 7, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Parfum d'Empire Wazamba bottle and packaging - perfumeshrine.com

So where did we leave off in our last post? Ah yes, I was running back into the forest and Gwen was following. I was trying to get away from forest smells, to run through fields, sniff flowers, try something different, but our Davy Crockett/Jon Hamm fantasy lured me back into the dark piney depths. Good thing, too, because I discovered Wazamba by Parfum d’Empire. 

Just to reprise….Marc-Antoine Corticchiato from Parfum d’Empire, is a brilliant nose as well as a PhD. chemist whose area of study is aromatic plant materials. Combine his two talents with years of perfume study at ISIPCA in Versailles, and the result is thirteen fragrances from Parfums d’Empire, his niche perfume house which is admired for creating high-quality complex perfumes with fascinating historical references. We list three: Fougère Bengale, Ambre Russe, and Musc Tonkin, rich gorgeous scents with a unique stories to tell about Colonial tiger-hunts, and Tsarist Russia, and the charismatic musk deer. 

I wasn’t surprised, then, when I walked into the beauty of his 2009 release, Wazamba. I was flat-out thrilled, because Wazamba combines two of my most favourite perfume notes – incense and balsamics. The pungent resinous tingling aromatic scent of balsam pine, fir, cedar, spruce, cypress - the forest smell - is as deeply spiritual to me as the smoky meditative scent of frankincense, myrhh and labdanum – the church smell - so when the two of them are combined in a single perfume, it’s a fall-on-your-knees experience for me.

According to Parfum d’Empire website, a wazamba is a “musical instrument often used in initiation ceremonies in Western Africa”, and these ceremonies use incense, which is sacred to all great civilizations and is symbolic of  “the voyage within.” Wazamba, the perfume, is described on the packaging as “an aromatic pine grove created around incense.” Incense is the core of this scent, and all other notes unfold around it.

My first thought at the very first sniff is “HUGE”. This is a huge super-saturated dose of pure incense powered by aldehydes, which soon takes on a slightly sweet fruitiness. The fruit note is listed as apple, which I’m hard-pressed to identify – I just know I like it a lot, especially when it develops a faint cinnamon spiciness in combination with the myrhh, with hints of licorice added in for good measure. As Wazamba dries down into the heart, the fruity/foody effect subsides, the heaviness lifts, and dry powdery incense wafts in its place. We’re at the incense core, and after a few minutes of enjoying its meditative spell, I become aware of the aromatic pine grove which surrounds it.

Indian sandalwood, with its creamy perfumed woodiness, combines with the resinous cypress and fir balsam, wrapping the smoky incense with rich forest smells. Hints of green needles, and earth, and soft brown forest floor, float in and out with the sweet accord of apple and myrhh, the aromatic sandalwood, and the burning incense, which has now turned to cool ash. Through the dry-down, all these notes are perfectly balanced and turn in slow circles around the heart of incense, making Wazamba a scent of pure raw beauty. Although a complex scent, it’s not what I’d call complicated, or sophisticated - it is just beautiful, and very real.

In Wazamba, the incense note that opens in flames, burns slowly, then glows on my skin for hours may be symbolic of an inward spiritual voyage, but I prefer to believe that it’s meant to celebrate the joy of living in the world, in nature. Maybe that’s the significance of the apple note. A couple of bites from an apple can change everything.

Today, we’re adding Wazamba to our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00.

Wazamba is Unisex.