Later today, December 1, 2017, surrealist collaboration Bloodmilk Exquisite Corpse will release Chapter III, its newest collection, and a launch which is rumored to be its biggest yet. Again partnering with independent artists within the handmade community to offer objects of ritual and desire, glimpses of these mysterious items have been teasingly unveiled on the bloodmilk instagram account over the past month.
Amongst the other wondrous treasures and talismans offered, you will find additional aromatic keepsakes to perfume the atmosphere of your personal landscape. Perhaps while you are breathlessly awaiting the 3:ooPM EST launch time, you’d like to kill some time gleaning a bit of insight into their newest scented mementos and fragrant fancies?
In Chapter III, three new fragrances have been conjured in collaboration with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Briar Rose, Petite Planchette, and Belonging To The Darkness II. Each 5ml bottle of fragrance is presented in an amber apothecary glass vial with label artwork by artist Aaron Horkey and arrived nested inside a keepsake box specially designed & engraved with metallic silver ink by local St. Paul, MN company Studio on Fire.
Briar Rose (red roses swirled with mandrake accord, bois de rose, ambrette seed, and khus) At first sniff, Briar Rose is a dusty late summer bloom, recalling somnolent stories of crumbling castles bound with prickling vines, charred spinning wheels, and moth-eaten slumber. It blossoms, furiously, into a full blown curse, ripe with lemon, berries, and anise, and finally wilts with the trembling fear of sleep and the scent of crushed, desiccated petals, marking the page of a terrible tale that all too often is more true than we can dream.
Petite Planchette (Tendrils of frankincense and myrrh curling around polished woods, sugared honey, and bourbon vanilla) My first thought regarding Petite Planchette is that it is a dreadfully charming scent. Imagine, during an evening with the spirits, employing a delicately wrought planchette, carved of a sweet, somber wood, and connecting with a childish phantom. Peals of laughter float throughout the darkened parlour as she riddles and mocks, and a faint scent of sugared treats lingers when she falls silent. There’s a touch of something that won’t quite behave–not fruit, not cake or pudding, but a fruity-not-fruitiness that’s really quite bratty in its unwillingness to reveal itself. I can perfectly imagine golden-haired, tragically complicated Claudia of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles smelling of Petite Planchette.
Belonging To The Darkness II (3-year aged patchouli and vintage amber, smoky cardamom, gilded juniper leaf, and a drop of golden vetiver) I am blind, initially, in the cool, murky patchouli-fied and daunting darkness of this fragrance, (somewhat similar to the dark, root-y Owl Moon from Chapter I) but in the dark there is a glimmering speck, a glowing point of warmth that begins to grow brighter. A kind traveler with a light aloft in the gloom, flickering and flaring, and redolent of a salty, maple/molasses note. This unexpected sweetness wonderfully balances out that coldly aloof, earthy dankness– a tender meeting of one’s shadow in the light.
Chapter III also presents four new powdered incenses, available in two sizes (2.75 oz and 8oz): 1929, Frida, Scorpions, and Bibliomancy. These delights for the senses are a special collaboration including multiple artists and craftspeople: the actual incense was blended and conjured by Three Ravens Co., the labels were hand drawn by Aaron Horkey and engraved by a Studio On Fire with metallic silver ink.
1929 (oils of sandalwood, cedar, smoke and lavender; raw ingredients of cedar wood, French lavender, Indian sandalwood). 1929 exudes a profound gravitas; perhaps it’s that solemn shade of purple that appeals to both lofty ideals and melancholic musings, but the scent itself–both in the jar and whilst alight and wafting in twisting, tufts of smoke–is simultaneously clear and dreamy, soft and piercing.
Frida (oils of incense, cinnamon, leather, patchouli, rose, cotton; raw ingredients of Indian patchouli leaf, dragon’s blood resin, mayan copal, sumatran benzoin, rose buds) In the jar, the vibrant red hue and the cinnamon rich, dragon’s blood sticky sweetness is a bold testament to the intensity of this blend. Once lighted it is no less potent, but with an odd sense of mischief becomes an earthy, medicinal aroma with hints of fabric and musk; of cloth worn close to the skin and with all of the sweet, strange, musky physicality that might cling to such adornment.
Scorpions (oils of galbanum, cedar, oud; raw ingredients of cedar wood, somalian myrrh, vetiver root) “So fierce and burning was the poison that the child died and fire broke out in the house.” Are you familiar with the story of Isis and her seven scorpions? As we’ve learned in countless myths the world over, it would behoove you to give succor to those appearing less unfortunate and importuning you for relief, for they may be god/desses in disguise. And should you shut your fine door to such a one, you may offend a Speaker of Spells who will set her scorpions upon you, heavy with seven-fold poison and sense of righteous indignation. Much like Isis’ beloved stinging familiars, Scorpions is a harsh, bitter fragrance that sets the very air it permeates to acrid throbbing. Once the smoke clears, however, the lingering scent is one of reverence and repentance, and of the push and pull of great power.
Bibliomancy (oils of clary sage, cedar wood, dust, dirt, vanilla; raw ingredients of white sage leaf, Ethiopian frankincense, Hungarian Mugwort). One can foretell the future through cards, clouds, drops of mercury, even a pile of steaming entrails–why not, too, the words from a book, chosen at random from your personal library? Unlit, the astringent sage-cedar combination in this powder effuses a nose-sniffing, throat clearing, “ahem, ahem!” clarity–you have flipped haphazardly to a page you’ve chosen by chance, but its message for you is keenly focused and anything but arbitrary; fate knows what it wants to say, it has chosen its words carefully, and it will brook no misunderstanding. Bibliomancy, smoldering and smoking, however, tells a different story. It has second, and maybe third thoughts, and its meaning is muddled. It wants you to make a plate of caramel-bottomed sugar cookies. It insists that you lay on the cool earth of your unfinished basement floor on a warm, woozy summer midnight and play an unutterably beautiful Mazzy Star album. It demands you bury your nose in a manky old paper back in the dim-lit corner of a used bookshop on a rainy afternoon and try, try again.
Featured photo by S. Elizabeth. Additional photos courtesy bloodmilk