Clandestine Laboratories

Andy the frenchy

Basenotes Dependent
Sep 16, 2018
Okay, last rant about Wendover...for today.;)

I think it's important to mention that even though this has a "coal" note to it which brings the industrial aspect to the perfume, it also has a wonderful freshness to it as well. The dry down almost smells like a minty lavender sort of in the vein of Oxford & Cambridge by Czech & Speake, which is a very classy peppermint and lavender fragrance that I also love. Wendover isn't just fresh however, it also captures that industrial feel so very well. This is just an excellent perfume in my opinion...so well done! I really love it.(y)
Minty lavender drydown? Recycled from the base of Silver?
 

Scent Detective

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 15, 2015
Minty lavender drydown? Recycled from the base of Silver?
I don't believe there is any mint in Wendover, but the overall accord in the dry down radiates to me a beautiful lavender as well as a greenness that is very comforting. Other's may smell something different than I do however...
 

Proust_Madeleine

Basenotes Dependent
Apr 5, 2019
I don't believe there is any mint in Wendover, but the overall accord in the dry down radiates to me a beautiful lavender as well as a greenness that is very comforting. Other's may smell something different than I do however...
I certainly don’t smell any overlap between Silver and Wendover and I didn’t really get any mint in the latter but I could see the Tonka in the basenotes evoking some of those qualities when pushed out against the greener floral notes(narcissus in particular). In general I’d say you won’t find anything lazy in Mark’s perfumes. He’s more the obsessive type, it seems. Doesn’t appear to like shortcuts, premade bases, recycling accords etc. But I couldn’t say for sure what his standards and practices are. Just that anytime he posts his thought process(or actual composition process) he seems to prefer to live inside the work, rather than approach it as something to get through to the end of.
 

Scent Detective

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 15, 2015
I certainly don’t smell any overlap between Silver and Wendover and I didn’t really get any mint in the latter but I could see the Tonka in the basenotes evoking some of those qualities when pushed out against the greener floral notes(narcissus in particular). In general I’d say you won’t find anything lazy in Mark’s perfumes. He’s more the obsessive type, it seems. Doesn’t appear to like shortcuts, premade bases, recycling accords etc. But I couldn’t say for sure what his standards and practices are. Just that anytime he posts his thought process(or actual composition process) he seems to prefer to live inside the work, rather than approach it as something to get through to the end of.
Couldn't agree more. Mark is not wasting his time retreading previous releases by recycling anything.
 

PStoller

I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
In general I’d say you won’t find anything lazy in Mark’s perfumes.

Agreed. Even those that don’t suit me strike me as either impressive of their type or impressive because they’re not of a “type.” His work is radically different from that of John Biebel, but that one broad aspect of it is similar.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
For me, the throughline the distinguishes Mark's creations from their peers are two things: his affection for minerality as a tone and texture, and, two, his affection for emphasizing the sharp edges of citrus/green/floral notes (which, with other perfumers, tend to be softened down).

I don't agree that, at least when it comes to his best work, these are frontloaded perfumes (I prefer the mid and drydown of Silver to its opening, personally, because of how that ambergris accord contributes).
 

Proust_Madeleine

Basenotes Dependent
Apr 5, 2019
For me, the throughline the distinguishes Mark's creations from their peers are two things: his affection for minerality as a tone and texture, and, two, his affection for emphasizing the sharp edges of citrus/green/floral notes (which, with other perfumers, tend to be softened down).

I don't agree that, at least when it comes to his best work, these are frontloaded perfumes (I prefer the mid and drydown of Silver to its opening, personally, because of how that ambergris accord contributes).
Interestingly I had a harder time perceiving the drydowns the first few times I wore them. I’m not sure if it’s because they struck my brain as being a bit overwhelming on the first few wears(not necessarily that they’re too loud or too synthetic— though I had wondered publicly in this thread if that was the case). Now I think it had more to do with how different they were from things I had tried before: the opening notes and the accords they formed, the direction that the compositions went in the drydown… the use of some synthetics that I’m generally not familiar with… it was a lot to take in. But once I got past those first few wears, it was like I could suddenly see the whole picture.

My first impression was that the drydowns kind of fizzled out and just sort of dissolved slowly into the most tenacious basenotes. Now, I find myself truly shocked at how great some of these drydowns are(though in Assam and Silver I still eventually arrive at a one note wood type effect if I leave it on for 24hrs without a shower— but it’s hard to complain about that).
 

slater93

Basenotes Member
Oct 26, 2021
just received my samples and wanted to post my first two impressions

assam: instant love. i was hoping to not like this one with scarcity of bottles and all but it is a perfect oud perfume for the first hour at least. unlike many other oud perfumes i have and love this feels like a perfume structured around the best qualities of oud to produce a wearable complex accord. it opens with a hint of the hindi funk which dries out pretty quickly, it retains two other qualities i often find in ouds: a strong cola quality of a series of slightly medicinal and woody herbs, and a certain acidity or woody pungent sharpness. the perfume really smells like a wearable accord of these innate qualities i get from pure oud oils. it’s so wearable while remaining completely true to the essence of what oud is. a friend of mine smelled this and immediately said “that’s pine!”, with no scent notes or knowledge of what it was, cool that it’s inherently woody to a blind nose and certainly doesn’t have the stinky qualities of ouds that makes people shy away, yet if i search for it i can find those qualities. i love this.

wendover: after assam i assumed all the perfumes would have a super wearable quality with no difficult notes. wendover opens difficultly for me, which i don’t mind at all. it’s funky and heavy in a strange earthy almost dirty cocoa fermenting earth kind of way. but it quickly dries down to a more wearable quality. it is much less straightforward than assam. i don’t get any direct smoke notes, it has a distinctly cooling quality to it, slightly bracing but with no noticeable camphoric or minty qualities. it’s definitely earthy in a way i am not familiar with and i like it, but i think this is something i need to wear multiple times to get a handle on, which is something i really like to have happen.

i went in with really high expectations which usually results in disappointment for me, but i must say off my initial sampling i think this house deserves all the attention it’s getting and cannot wait to sample the rest of these beauties.
 
Mar 26, 2022
In a nutshell: they have a sure wow effect, but I found 3 of these 4 to not manage to hold that in the base. Overall, the same type of criticism that I would do to Rogue: surprising openings (thanks to a great A or B or C accord/ingredients), but no legs afterwards, and a lack of roundness found in over DYI/indie houses (because of those same A, B or C ingredients/accords that are too sharp). Do they source their bases in the same place, maybe? I would reconsider, or use these more moderately.
And like for Rogue, I can tell that there are 'great bulldozer wow accords', but no real story behind that. Like a wine with a stunning nose, but no structure in the mouth. Or a Pink Floyd-level laser light show during the first song, followed by the lights of a small jazz club, after that. That said, even if there's still some work to do before these could get a solid 5-stars for me, creativity is always enjoyed, and a sampling of these is well worth it.

I'm honestly hugely flattered by your impressions and by everyone above who has advocated for and my work in response to your critiques. I don't just say this: I especially value constructive criticism, especially from someone who also compares my work favorably to that of much more well-established perfumers and who is thoughtful about it. I don't take any of what you say negatively, though I'm going to disagree a little with some of it. Thank you in particular for what you said about Novochoc, that's the only one that was created within the last couple years, and I think it shows my development as a perfumer with literally zero training and little context, with Madrid behind that by a couple years. Silver was one I originally "composed" in 2010, about seven month after I started learning perfumery, but I remade it several times and finished it in 2018. Orpheus was composed in 2012 and completed in 2013 or '14.

I'm also, ironically, really pleased to hear that my fragrances have a wow factor in the topnotes, because that's always been the most difficult thing for me, learning perfumery: fixing the topnotes when using a lot of natural materials in composing base notes. Believe it or not, my challenge has always been to complete the topnote of a fragrance after composing the base and heart. Film Noir in particular, the first version I made, had a pretty rough topnote that had nuances of overcooked veggies because of the way the smoky topnote of one material combined with lavender.

However, I'm somewhat sensitive to heavy, artificial-smelling fragrances and conceived of my line as something for people like myself. In fact, I've had several people with fragrance sensitivities try samples and then buy their first bottles ever, and I've also been completely surprised that it's generally people who like fine fragrance who really like what I'm doing. Part of the idea behind "Clandestine Laboratories" was the idea that the fragrances themselves would be clandestine - ie, not necessarily identifiable as fragrances. Low impact, light-bodied, naturalistic, subtle but with high diffusion.

I often have the same experience you do with the drydown of some of my fragrances when I'm wearing them myself, but not when I smell them on other people and with most of my fragrances I smell them first thing in the morning after wearing them the day before but then they disappear again. I think it's because the drydowns are diffusive, which causes odor fatigue, but also naturalistic - which also causes odor fatigue. I'm still figuring out how to create impact for the wearer in the drydown without heaviness or artificiality and I'd say that Novochoc, Pool Boy and Wendover are steps in that direction. But at the end of the day, I'm always going for wearability over attention-grabbing, at least after the first few minutes.

As others have noted, my fragrances don't recycle concepts or use bases in a way that would make them similar to other indie perfumers' work or similar to my own fragrances. However, natural materials are essentially like bases and I use a lot of them, especially varieties of vetiver.
 
Mar 26, 2022
just received my samples and wanted to post my first two impressions

assam: instant love. i was hoping to not like this one with scarcity of bottles and all but it is a perfect oud perfume for the first hour at least. unlike many other oud perfumes i have and love this feels like a perfume structured around the best qualities of oud to produce a wearable complex accord. it opens with a hint of the hindi funk which dries out pretty quickly, it retains two other qualities i often find in ouds: a strong cola quality of a series of slightly medicinal and woody herbs, and a certain acidity or woody pungent sharpness. the perfume really smells like a wearable accord of these innate qualities i get from pure oud oils. it’s so wearable while remaining completely true to the essence of what oud is. a friend of mine smelled this and immediately said “that’s pine!”, with no scent notes or knowledge of what it was, cool that it’s inherently woody to a blind nose and certainly doesn’t have the stinky qualities of ouds that makes people shy away, yet if i search for it i can find those qualities. i love this.

wendover: after assam i assumed all the perfumes would have a super wearable quality with no difficult notes. wendover opens difficultly for me, which i don’t mind at all. it’s funky and heavy in a strange earthy almost dirty cocoa fermenting earth kind of way. but it quickly dries down to a more wearable quality. it is much less straightforward than assam. i don’t get any direct smoke notes, it has a distinctly cooling quality to it, slightly bracing but with no noticeable camphoric or minty qualities. it’s definitely earthy in a way i am not familiar with and i like it, but i think this is something i need to wear multiple times to get a handle on, which is something i really like to have happen.

i went in with really high expectations which usually results in disappointment for me, but i must say off my initial sampling i think this house deserves all the attention it’s getting and cannot wait to sample the rest of these beauties.

*blushes in internet* Thank you. Just imagine, a wearable oud fragrance. I just bought a bunch of the high-quality oud I used to finish it and am planning to add it to have it more available soon. In the meantime there will be a few more bottles available in February.

I don't mean to be a stalker here but I was just responding and saw you post. I like to provide as much insight as possible for people interested in my work and I find chatting with people so much easier than sending emails or writing blog posts.

Wendover does in fact have a challenging toponte, I find, and it's uncharacteristically strong in terms of impact. The first few seconds in particular are a bit rough because of the particular rectified birch tar oil I used, which I'd hoped would work for Master, but really didn't because of the strong (and tbh, weird) topnote. It's also just a strong, diffusive fragrance. I gave a sample to a friend the other day, who sprayed a little on his wrists. I left the small room and came back and it was like running into a wall of fragrance that disappeared fairly quickly. Probably not one to wear to the office.
 

slater93

Basenotes Member
Oct 26, 2021
wearing silver and film noir for the first time. i’m a good bit of the way into silver (4 hours) and i can say i love this. more effect than a perfume, it reminds me initially for sure of eucalyptus and tiger balm. as the dry down happens the eucalyptusy mint effect tames to merge more with the other materials, which is all such a well blended accord with many synthetics that i don’t recognize it at all. i think i’m used to uninspired synthetic fragrances or ones that don’t appeal to me because they’re simply boring. silver is imminently wearable and yet completely new to my nose. it is distinct and compelling while also being an easy crowd pleaser, which i’m not used to but wow this stuff is really cool!

film noir is only twenty minutes in and i don’t love it thus far. it’s wuitr strongly powdery and woody but more than anything the powerful top note i’m getting is what i usually associate with violet leaf, something that is not listed in the scent notes, it’s kind of a sharp herbaceous leafy bitter note i don’t love, and i could see liking this if it blew off into the dry down but if not, then i suppose it’s not for me. it does have a distinctly classical quality to it without smelling like a true old school perfume, which is nice. watching alphaville tonight so i thought it would pair well, curious on how it will develop.
 

PStoller

I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
Well, the good news is, Wendover smells great. The bad news is, so does my whole house, because my brand new 100ml bottle slid out of the tubular box and shattered on the floor.

I was literally in tears.
 
Mar 26, 2022
Ugh that sucks! I’ve messaged Peter privately with an offer to help make things right.

Hey, check this out! I’m a shadowy nyc indie!

 

Scent Detective

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 15, 2015
Ugh that sucks! I’ve messaged Peter privately with an offer to help make things right.

Hey, check this out! I’m a shadowy nyc indie!

This is awesome Mark! Thanks for being so great about this!!!
 
Mar 26, 2022
film noir is only twenty minutes in and i don’t love it thus far. it’s wuitr strongly powdery and woody but more than anything the powerful top note i’m getting is what i usually associate with violet leaf, something that is not listed in the scent notes, it’s kind of a sharp herbaceous leafy bitter note i don’t love, and i could see liking this if it blew off into the dry down but if not, then i suppose it’s not for me. it does have a distinctly classical quality to it without smelling like a true old school perfume, which is nice. watching alphaville tonight so i thought it would pair well, curious on how it will develop.

You should have smelled it before I fixed the topnote lol I hope the drydown was an improvement for you; for me the top was just about masking the "burnt vegetable" odor that resulted from the topnotes of the choya loban combining with the florals. I'm surprised to hear there's any resemblance to violet leaf, however, other than herbaceous qualities from the Spanish lavender.

I'm glad you're liking Silver and finding it interesting. I recommend overspraying to get the full effect from the drydown.
 
Mar 26, 2022
I don't believe there is any mint in Wendover, but the overall accord in the dry down radiates to me a beautiful lavender as well as a greenness that is very comforting. Other's may smell something different than I do however...

The "mint/lavender effect" in the drydown is from the combination of fresh-earthy and tonka notes. I do fresh in a lot of different ways that may read similarly, especially if one is used to the ways in which fresh is generally conveyed in fragrance.
 

FullCollapse

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 5, 2012
Wendover tonight. Very medicinal. In a good way. Kind of a riff on the best cough syrup. Reminds me of something from childhood. I enjoy it.
Had my first proper full wearing of Wendover today. This is easily in my to top 5. The entire composition is magical.
I also received Racer X and Enigma as samples and am really enjoying Racer X so far. It's a very wearable auto garage in a bottle. Enigma is also very good but I need more time with it. A very soapy herbal green citrus fougere with fruity elements as well. Very much living up to it's name. It's good though.
 

PStoller

I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
What a tragedy! Glad things worked out in the end though.

Indeed, it helps greatly that Mr. Sage is a mensch. I'll add that I wouldn't normally cry over spilt fragrance, but it triggered a reaction to a more profound loss I haven't fully processed. Perhaps, then, the silver (not Silver—I still have that one!) lining is that this small loss might accelerate some healing.
 

FullCollapse

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 5, 2012
Indeed, it helps greatly that Mr. Sage is a mensch. I'll add that I wouldn't normally cry over spilt fragrance, but it triggered a reaction to a more profound loss I haven't fully processed. Perhaps, then, the silver (not Silver—I still have that one!) lining is that this small loss might accelerate some healing.
I'm sorry to hear about your greater loss and wish you peace on your journey to heal.
 

Proust_Madeleine

Basenotes Dependent
Apr 5, 2019
Had my first proper full wearing of Wendover today. This is easily in my to top 5. The entire composition is magical.
I also received Racer X and Enigma as samples and am really enjoying Racer X so far. It's a very wearable auto garage in a bottle. Enigma is also very good but I need more time with it. A very soapy herbal green citrus fougere with fruity elements as well. Very much living up to it's name. It's good though.
I love Enigma. Changes each time on me. Medicinal, antiseptic, leather, fougere… smoky lillies(???) maybe something like saffreleine(???) —- is that possible? Idk. I love it. Probably FBW for me. Also smells 180 different on my girl… soft suede leather and the top of a baby’s head.
 

FullCollapse

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 5, 2012
I love Enigma. Changes each time on me. Medicinal, antiseptic, leather, fougere… smoky lillies(???) maybe something like saffreleine(???) —- is that possible? Idk. I love it. Probably FBW for me. Also smells 180 different on my girl… soft suede leather and the top of a baby’s head.
I really love how it changes so much. I have it sprayed on a test strip sitting by my desk and keep smelling a completely different fragrance every so often. On skin the smoky fougere aspects are my favorite part. I get the lilies or some sort of floral note as well a very strong, very green lime.
 

Scent Detective

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 15, 2015
Had my first proper full wearing of Wendover today. This is easily in my to top 5. The entire composition is magical.
I also received Racer X and Enigma as samples and am really enjoying Racer X so far. It's a very wearable auto garage in a bottle. Enigma is also very good but I need more time with it. A very soapy herbal green citrus fougere with fruity elements as well. Very much living up to it's name. It's good though.
Agreed, I think it's brilliant!
 

showpony

Super Member
Feb 6, 2022
I read this entire thread last night and was practically hyperventilating by the end. Immediately ordered some samples. I don’t even remember which ones…I know Pool Boy and Wendover for sure. Thankfully I’ll be in California in February to pick them up. Looking forward to Canadian shipping, as I’m sure I’ll be ordering more 😀
 
Mar 26, 2022
I read this entire thread last night and was practically hyperventilating by the end. Immediately ordered some samples. I don’t even remember which ones…I know Pool Boy and Wendover for sure. Thankfully I’ll be in California in February to pick them up. Looking forward to Canadian shipping, as I’m sure I’ll be ordering more 😀
If you tell me your order number before I fulfill it I’ll throw in a couple extras for you. Always exciting to get my stuff to people outside the US and especially to anyone interested enough to read this thread.
 
Mar 26, 2022
Had my first proper full wearing of Wendover today. This is easily in my to top 5. The entire composition is magical.
Just curious - top five of mine or top five fragrances?

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the reception it’s gotten, especially because been a bit of a surprise because I’d had a version of it around for years and I personally found it unpleasantly strong. Then I boosted the tonka note recently and it really came together, so I’ve only been discovering it as something I enjoy wearing recently and am still discovering things I like about it.

Enigma is one I’ve been wearing a lot since I finished it last summer and it’s becoming a favorite. I’ve been wearing the unfinished non-IFRA-compliant version for years but this version is better and actually lasts longer (and is compliant). I’m thinking I’ll released the EDTs as a separate line, not as limited releases. I don’t foresee any issues with producing them continuously.

OTOH, after I mix the next batch of Wendover, which will be twice the size of this last batch, I’ll be out of one aromachem that I’m having trouble sourcing. I’ll figure something out but that may mean “eventually”
 
Mar 26, 2022
Funny, I just checked my email after posting that and my supplier had responded to my inquiry that they found a small amount of the aromachem. I'm going to buy what they have left and by the looks of it this will be enough that I'll be able to continue making Wendover until one of the weird natural materials runs out - an extremely low-quality vetiver oil that was obviously grown in poor soil that had a fungus problem, which gives it an unpleasantly strong earthy quality - at which point I may be able to replace it with ruh khus absolute and some earthy aromachems and who knows, that may be even better. At any rate, this is great news!
 

FullCollapse

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 5, 2012
Just curious - top five of mine or top five fragrances?

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the reception it’s gotten, especially because been a bit of a surprise because I’d had a version of it around for years and I personally found it unpleasantly strong. Then I boosted the tonka note recently and it really came together, so I’ve only been discovering it as something I enjoy wearing recently and am still discovering things I like about it.
Top 5 of my entire collection my friend! It's number 1 in terms of smoky/mossy compositions, narrowly beating out Hyde by Hiram Green. Will be purchasing a backup bottle when the next batch is released.
 

showpony

Super Member
Feb 6, 2022
If you tell me your order number before I fulfill it I’ll throw in a couple extras for you. Always exciting to get my stuff to people outside the US and especially to anyone interested enough to read this thread.
That’s fantastic! I’m order number 572 ☺️ Thank you Mark, I’m very excited to sample your work.
 

thrilledchilled

All Is Beautiful
Basenotes Plus
Nov 17, 2018
I wore Pool Boy again last night. I am not good at figuring out perfumes, but a few hours after applying, I’m smelling the perfume and noticing, and thinking, wow, what is that wonderful smell? Then I remember that it is the Pool Boy I applied several hours ago. A fantastic dry down and a very sharp (but pleasant) opening.
 
Mar 26, 2022
I'm pretty crap at figuring out perfumes myself tbh. I'll often - as I just did - smell the the back of one of my hands, which is how I evaluate accords and fragrances, love what I'm smelling, and find I have no memory of what it is. In this case I must have rubbed my hand against a surface that had Madrid on it, probably combined with something else, and it smells fantastic but it took me a while to even recognize it.

I'd say one thing that characterizes my style (I've been thinking about this a lot recently bc I'm writing a bio and seem to be at a tipping point) is that I make fragrances that are often fairly abstract and non-referential, possibly unfamilar in terms of what fragrances smell like and how they perform, which sometimes makes them difficult to perceive if you're used to wearing them, but which also has an impact on people when they first smell them regardless of whether they've been applied recently or hours ago. Obviously, when a fragrance "fades in and out" it's not going to be because its some high-tech pulsating wonder, but because the sense of smell itself tends to come and go, especially with "background odors." @Proust_Madeleine commented that some of my fragrances smell very different indoors vs outdoors and I think this is because they tend toward diffusiveness over impact or weight in the drydowns. When an odor is diffusive but light-bodied, it tends to become invisible to the wearer and I suspect that being outside mitigates this effect and allows someone wearing a fragrance to catch whiffs of it and to smell more realistically what it smells like to someone else.

I think I've probably mentioned here before, but I originally conceived of my line as fragrances that could be worn by people who are fragrance sensitive; I identify somewhat myself, which is why mine are all fairly light-bodied, even if they are also sometimes powerful and highly diffusive. I value subtlety and comfort and try to avoid things that are constantly hammering at the wearer's attention, and doing worse things to the people around them. I'm thinking out loud here and am curious whether this makes sense to anyone else.
 
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Mar 26, 2022
Btw, I think the absolute best way to smell a fragrance with any semblance of objectivity is to spray it a few times in the air in a small room and then leave for five minutes and then to return again every half hour or so, longer in the drydown. Smell is the most subjective sense because what is familiar tends to recede or even disappear completely.
 
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