I’m not sure how I feel about Liquid Night by A Lab on Fire, a relatively new player on the niche perfume scene. On the one hand, the minty-fresh bergamot, lavender and clary sage opening brings to mind numerous other generic masculine fragrance clones, but on the other hand, there is something different about it, a certain minimalist aesthetic that sets it somewhat apart from its counterparts. It is as though the perfumer took the very same ingredients and ran them through a strainer and then a purifier, thus taking clean and spare to a completely different level. It’s the same, but different. You’re probably thinking that I’m a nut job at this point of time, and so do I, but I’m not sure how else to phrase what I’ve just said!
The opening of Liquid Night is clearly synthetic-smelling. There’s no denying it. But it’s not IN-YOUR-FACE screechy synthetic, but a light, moderate synthetic aesthetic, very much like how one would feel when watching an avant-garde visual art piece that purports to get the viewer thinking about lines, structure and space. I think I get it, but then I don’t, but then again maybe I do. In any case, this meditative treatment of an accord that usually manages to annoy me to no end (whether for its insipid unoriginality or its remarkably persistent, cloying, and gong-crashing quality) is commendable, and no doubt marks an improvement in the genre of masculine flops. But I hesitate to say that it emotionally moves me in any way. I’m sure there will be a time to wear Liquid Night, those moments when one needs to clear one’s head from the clutter that usually resides. Unfortunately for me, such moments are few and far between, for I thrive in the Byzantine mazes of my cluttered mind, and I’m happy there.
I’m afraid that I’ve waffled on for far too long about the opening of Liquid Night. But my waffling is valid, for the opening notes seem to persist even into the heart, and for quite some time at that. In the heart, though, a dry, clean and spare (my, my, I seem to be using the same adjectives again!) incense holds down the other notes. It’s interesting alright, but still for me it’s rather lifeless, like having a cardboard cutout for a companion rather than an actual human being.
Somewhere along the two-hour mark, Liquid Night segues into its drydown, and it is only here that I can say that I feel its pulse. Dry wood (hinoki, according to a list of notes, but I’ve never smelt that before, so I’m just going to go with dry wood) blends with a smidgen of white-washed vanilla that puts some flesh onto an otherwise bony composition. Remarkably, the drydown lasts for upward of eight hours, which gives the fragrance quite a remarkable longevity of over ten hours, a feat for something so remarkably soft and meditative. I have to add that it survived on my skin despite a vigorous hour-long game of table tennis, which adds some credibility to its tenacity.
Will I wear Liquid Night often? Probably not. But I’m definitely keeping the 15ml bottle that I bought while holidaying in Paris. Even now, as I was then, I am intellectually stimulated by the originality that Liquid Night brings to an otherwise tired genre of fragrances.
Liquid Night retails at Colette for a very reasonable €24 for 15ml. It really is the perfect size for any fragrance. Otherwise, you should be able to find it at LuckyScent at USD110 for 60ml. While you’re exploring the brand, do check out What We Do In Paris Is Secret – now that is a brilliant fragrance!
* This review was based on my own bottle of Liquid Night.
~ The Smelly Vagabond