It greets me with a fresh labdanum, which is underscored by a peachy fruitiness and a smooth and bright incense, that is neither haughty nor ceremonious - reminding me of the sun-filled moments in the majestic brightness of Uppsala'a Cathedral. An ylang-ylang develops into another main player; it is trim and neither rich nor creamy. A lot of the brightness is due to backbone of sparkling aldehydes that permeate the whole.
A more floral phase is develops a bit later, with a strong green and light-filled tuberose very notable; this is not very waxy, only has a slightly resinous touch, and presents ass less creamy again that other versions of it in other olfactory products. A green jasmine as well as a rose note are joining in, with the rose a bit nonspecific on me; the jasmine grows into a more significant contributor to the mix.
Spicier components of this creation include a mildly crisp castoreum, which pairs with a nice and gently edgy high-quality oakmoss, which starts out timidly, but then develops to full glory only many hours later, and then with a slightly civety undercurrent. Hints of a slightly leathery undertone transiently appear, but is is a sandalwood that gradually makes itself known in the mix and that adds a woody feeling to the whole. By now the resinous aroma expresses nigh-campherous characteristics at times, and it becomes stronger towards the end instilling a bit more sweetness in the final stages. These stages are not neatly separated, but they merge into one another over time.
I get moderate sillage, excellent projection, and eight hours of longevity on my skin.
This is an unusual scent for warm autumn days in its unconventional combination of various disparate aspects of the perfumer's tool kit. It is spicy and has lots of incense, but it is bright too; it uses florals but also animalic touches - and it is quite original in blending and structuring. On the downside some of its components are a tad generic, and in the wave of numerous ingredients cannot full develop their characteristics or are overwhelmed by others - the rose especially on me - but some of very good quality. Overall 3.75/5
I could start by identifying MAAI as a floral chypre diva. I could note the contrast between its soapy aldehydes with smears of dark animalic musks. I could describe its soaring, brassy florals in more depth, so on and so forth. But others here have already done it so well.
As such, I will instead describe how MAAI makes me feel - like a member of the aristocracy sporting a choker of glittering, fat, blood red rubies during the French Revolution. Qu'ils mangent de la brioche indeed.
If you like the stinky aromatics of Jicky and the spicy funk of Cuba, you'll probably like this.
Maai is a contrast of antiseptics and brown dirt noise: cypress, eucalyptus, camphor and bay; and on the other side animal and balsamic notes.
And it would make sense if there were oud at its core, it would tie everything together.
There is also an outlier of dried fruit, with a gourmand hint of sweetness, and nuances of metal, wood and canvas.
At first, to my mind, it evoked a field hospital in the chaotic mud of Flanders.
But the radiance it gives off is more diffuse than that, a cool fruity aldehyde.
The drydown is a patchouli chypre with a lot of civet, which makes this bizarre scent actually quite traditional.
And only now - having looked online - it turns out that Maai is a Japanese word. It means the defensive space between two opposing enemies. Or, in this context, No Man's Land.
IF I had never smelled the original version of MAAI, I would appreciate this scent all the more. Unfortunately, I bought a bottle when it first came out, and its strikingly green and resiny animalic qualities floored me. Now however, this wild cat of the jungle has returned from the vet minus its testicles and claws and wearing a plastic cone of shame.
MAAI is still an interesting and lovely 'fume, highlighting some musky florals (primarily tuberose), undergirded with spicy, soapy woods. It's even a bit aftershave-y in an old school way, but it ain't a patch on what it used to be. So know that when you read reviews referencing and reveling in its strikingly animalic nature, you're hearing about a beast from the past, now sadly neutered and safe for the furniture.
To me this was a MACHO male scent, and I rarely characterize any scent as gender-specific. I came of perfume age in the blasts of the overblown 1980's.To me this smelled like the skanky too-old guys still at the bar at last call. The initial charred animalistic smokiness almost did me in. It did mellow but the unpleasant almost metallic civit ran the other fainter of heart ambers and florals away leaving a little puff of an old fire pit the morning after camping.