Clive Barker: Forbidden by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is constantly adding new material into their array of "scent adaptations." And considering they've brought you their interpretations of the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Neil Gaiman, adding Clive Barker to their stable only makes sense, really.

The first outing with Mr. Barker is an interesting one: "The Forbidden" is one of his short stories from Books of Blood. Doesn't ring a bell? Well, it was this story that was adapted by Bernard Rose into the movie Candyman. The original story takes place in a London council estate and the movie instead featured the now late and unlamented Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago--still both conveyed the power of legends to seduce and destroy...even in the center of modem metropolises. They also showed how trying to touch this other kind of life--this stuff of legends and stories--can burn and sting. But is the pain worse than a life empty of wonder and awe?

Helen, the graduate student, explores graffiti and urban legends among the poor while looking for hidden meaning. Some of this search could be motivated by her passive aggressive cheating husband, who she refers to as Foolish and Vacuous. That phrase could refer to her life in general, which features dinner parties with her oh-so-clever friends and her husband...who beds naive undergraduates in an effort to reassert his potency. The perfume is like that: while nominally a fougère, a woody and masculine scent, it still feels it has become domesticated, over-civilized, and self-satisfied.

As Helen encounters the shrine of the entity that haunts the housing estate, Barker makes a clever choice by using light to add to the mural's power--and obscure its interior as much as darkness would. Indeed, The Day Burned White makes the mural more than just a clever painting of a face with its mouth open wide...it brings an otherworldly aspect that threatened to swallow you whole and shows you the power that shines out from its core. The building is raised out of its mundane blandness of government-built housing. The scent captures that perfectly with its not unpleasant chemical smell of cheap plaster and spray cans, adding white and golden amber as a powerful note of sunlight blasting through--and also some moss to remind you that what is here exists on the horrific tales of death that are its flesh and bones.

This story is about seduction. We all seek passion in our lives, be it through love, the divine, or the supernatural. Helen seeks this passion but she finds that the Candyman demands so much from his beautiful victim that it equals her complete surrender. She resists but is still drawn to his honeyed words about immortality and the power of fear and whispers. Can you live a life without the pleasure of sweetness even if that means the sting of death? Sweets to the Sweet smells as intoxicating as Tony Todd speaking that signature phrase. The essence of honey and cane sugar, you almost enter a bliss-like state so powerful...you may not notice the hook entering your flesh.

These scents are truly a beautiful and faithful adaptation of Clive Barker's work. Check out the line thus far here. I am really looking forward to see what comes out next. What is the scent of Lemarchand's box? Hmmm...