Monday, May 20, 2024

Norne By Slumberhouse: A Wooded Winter Wonderland

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A massive reason we love perfume is for the memories it summons. Sometimes, a perfume is wonderful due to its exacting recreation of something familiar. Such is the wonder of a perfume like Hyrax, whose burning road & rock blast offers a one-way ticket to the desert. However, many of the most realistic perfumes can be alienating for the very reason that they are engaging. Smells of the ‘real world’ often carry glints of nature in its slowly decaying form. This makes something like Yatagan absolutely convincing as a forest scent, but deadly to those who find its dirty musks repulsive.

Slumberhouse’s Norne, a forest scent adjacent to Yatagan, has often been cited as one of the indie house’s most challenging scents. It’s harder to think of a scent that better fits the snowy, dark and deep woods that appear in Robert Frost’s poem. Those who wish to be transported to a dark winter evening will likely find themselves thrilled by what Norne has to offer. So what makes this fragrance so divisive?

Norne Notes

Fog caked needle, lichen, fern, moss, hemlock, incense

Slumberhouse is famously avoids using topnotes in their perfumes, and for this reason, it’s actually quite easy to get a picture of the fragrance from its not list. If you’ve ever taken a fresh, green pine needle and ground it up between your fingers, you’re halfway to what this fragrance has to offer. The rest of the deep green notes flesh out this herbal, yet soft, woody pine note, and then at the end of the line comes a massive, gorgeous incense note.

If you see this perfume in person, you’re likely to get a hint of why this perfume is intimidating. The lack of top notes in this parfum extrait means there’s even more room for the basenotes to dominate the perfume’s composition. I’m personally not sure if I’ve ever smelled something as dense as Norne. Imagine the winter forest, but instead of cold air stifling the movement of molecules and deadening the nose to scent, the darkness of the sky and the snow-covered evergreens translate their glittering visual splendor to smell.

Unlike something by Montale, Norne is truly a perfume of nuance and texture. It’s massive, but has a rough, hypernatural quality that avoids superficiality. However, there is one drawback. The opening is a thing of beauty, but the absence of topnotes means that the perfume’s dry-down is a bit one dimensional. The brighter aspects of its opening disappear over time and leave Norne smelling like an extremely high-end version of a pine-based perfume like Ralph Lauren’s Polo. Norne’s still a thing of beauty, but it’s not quite the masterpiece one might expect after the powerful and glorious strength of its opening.

On top of that, Norne is a rare beast these days. Slumberhouse’s production slowed down during the pandemic – unsurprising given its status as an indie house. Finding a bottle, or even a sample, can be exceedingly difficult to find. However, if you’d like to give it a go, find a sample or decant here.

The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated. 

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