Plum crumble. After a quickly vanishing whiff of fresh fruit, the fragrance falls heavily and lastingly on a pleasant, but really boring and conventional spicy gourmand base, with no evolution and no further surprises. One could argue that this stability has to do with Helium being a noble gas, but, come on, we are talking about the element that constitutes 27% of the mass of the Sun- there's a bit of irreverence in making it smell like a fruit cake!
An immediately likable spicy tobacco scent that smells an awfull lot like Ambre Narguile. Fans of Ambre Narguile know it for its warm and rich bakery notes of honey, cinnamon, and vanilla. It's heavy and dense and smells like a sweet pastry brought fresh out the oven. Helium is similar, but it's drier, and lacks the gooey warmth that comprises the texture of Ambre Narguile. Helium feels pricklier, a little spicier, and less dense. It's airier. I'm giving this a neutral rating because it almost feels like a blatant copy of Jean Claude Ellena's gourmand masterpiece, and I love the richness and thick texture of the original, but by itself Helium is actually pretty good. In fact, if you enjoy Ambre Narguile but find it too heavy to wear, this could be the exact alternative you're looking for.
Helium opens with ambroxan/ambrocenide, vanillin, woods (cashmeran) and a load of Iso E Super. Pleasant and refined, a nice balance of "gassy" and dark parts with a dusty, sweet benzoin-amber undertone, made denser by the rich roundness of vanillin and more aromatic by the woody-smoky-incense notes of Iso E. After a while it also emerges a subtle, rarefied and light floral-fruity breeze, with also a tobacco leaves note, making the scent tending towards a sort of earthy floral powdery, always restrained and clean. Cinnamon, cloves and a salty metallic aldehydes note give shape to the structure. Finally I also detect a microscopic hint of safraleine on the very base, a slight "burnt rubber" smell. On the drydown the tobacco note becomes almost slightly boozy, perhaps it's some weird effect of being juxtaposed to aldehydes, however it develops a sort of "alcohol" note, always keeping a woody-ambery warm, dusty and aromatic accord on the base. The inspiration behind this scent looks quite close to the one of many Etat Libre d'Orange ones, basically an attempt to offer a "pop" and post-modern re-take on classic structures (here, a powdery chypre). The problem is that in my opinion, the team at nu_be has not enough talent, ideas and creativity to actually do it they only "recreate" using some ultra-common aromachemicals, in a totally common way. Nothing new, nothing intriguing, nothing "funny", nothing interesting. Just to be clear, I'm not "against" synthetics (as it would be as silly as being against some musical notes), a couple of my favourite scents ever are totally synthetic: it's a matter of approach and creativity. "Re-creating" a classic scent does not mean simply translating it into a synthetic composition. That's only doing what dozen of low-level brands do. Well however, considered per se, Helium smells nice, clean, with even some interesting nuances, but overall it's hard to remember a bit uninspired in my opinion.
Helium opens with a sweet alcoholic splash of benzoin before quickly transitioning to its early heart. During the early heart the relatively sweet benzoin remains, adding significant warm spicy cinnamon and smooth pipe tobacco to the mix with hints of a balmy chapstick-like accord joining leathery styrax and clary sage in support. During the late dry-down the composition turns much less sweet and relatively dry, as slightly earthy patchouli from the base joins remnants of the tobacco and benzoin as the composition slowly fades. Projection is average and longevity very good at 10-11 hours on skin.
Unlike its sister scent, Sulphur, where the tie-in to the element of the same name is more readily apparent, Helium is a bit of a misnomer as the composition actually has much more of warm spiced tobacco and patchouli focus with no trace of the element to be found. The tobacco which ranges from sweet in the key mid-section to more of a dry leaf during the finish smells quite pleasant marred by the vague balmy chapstick-like accord residing underneath it that makes the composition a bit difficult to enjoy at times. The best part of the composition is the late dry-down as the tobacco turns dry and the patchouli takes over as star through the end. The bottom line is the 110 Euro per 100ml bottle Helium is a odd name for the composition and is far from perfect, but it does smell good, earning a 3 to 3.5 star out of 5 rating and a tepid recommendation. Those looking for this kind of composition should also sample Saville by Keiko Mecheri that occupies a similar space but was one I personally preferred.
This house drives me crazy. The diversity of their offerings, the blends, their concepts, aesthetic, quality...everything. From the notes list, I was honestly ready to dismiss it but I've to say Helium is another winner. A somewhat familiar oriental which while sharing similarities with several other fragrances, it's still able to mesmerize for its weightless character. Yes, comparisons with Ambre Narguile are probably right but Helium is way less sweet, not honeyed and overall spicier. There's also some of the woody-cinnamon combo already found in the original Comme Des Garcons EDP from 1994, the warm resinous spiciness of Noel Au Balcon and even *distant* echoes of Songe D'Un Bois D'Ete (minus the skank). The best part, though, is that such a potentially cloying theme, is handled with much sophistication and elegance to never result heavy, overwhelming or derivative. On the other hand, given the packaging, who is expecting something over the top or avant-garde, be ready for a major disappointment. Helium is a modern revisitation on a classic theme.
For those who care, sillage is great as well as projection.
Now, put this stuff in whatever *fancy* niche bottle, add a bunch of *luxury-clichè*, and it will immediately become the next hype.