I've been working my way steadily through my new samples over the last three weeks and I must say, one lesson I am learning is to not jump to conclusions about a fragrance before I try it. I know this might seem obvious, but so often I read a good review of a perfume, go into raptures and then order a sample. I wait with bated breath, it arrives, I try it and... Oh dear, not so good. Disappointment. Or sometimes it works the other way round, whereby I read a poor review, think 'sod it, I'll order it anyway', it arrives, I leave it until last and then wham, it impresses me no end.
This happened recently with Montale Oud Musk and Full Incense. I can't remember too many reviews being negative, but there were a few that were more than a bit wishy washy about these. I should state from the start that Montale is not my favourite house. With the exception of Cuir D'arabie I have found the others I've tried fair to middling. The oud note they use, usually that searing medicinal/band aid aroma, is a bit overbearing. However, Oud Musk employs an oud note that is more akin to that found in Le Labo and By Kilian's oud perfumes. It is woodier, dry and quite complex.
Oud Musk is a little strange for me in that neither note shouts. It is surprisingly well blended and while the oud is very evident, it is not skanky and by the same token the musk, while not a laundry or white musk in style, is not skanky either. Having said that, it isn't quite clean. It hangs tantalisingly on the fence, which lends a certain frisson to the fragrance. Oud Musk is quite a warm fragrance, yet just aloof enough to add a tension. Therein lies the appeal for me.
Full Incense is very nice, I should say up front. Yet for some reason it doesn't move me quite as much as Oud Musk. Having said that, it is very well executed. Again, from reviews I was expecting it to overwhelm with an incense intensity that never quite manifests itself on my skin, unless I am so used to strong incense that I don't detect it as much. That's not to say that incense is not evident. It is, but is complemented by a lot of cedar and, I think, sandalwood, although that note is not listed. There is a slight creamy sweetness to it that prevents it from becoming too overbearing. Full Incense is hardly a revolutionary incense fragrance - if you've tried Profumum's Olibanum for example, or even 10 Corso Como, you will recognise where this fragrance is going, albeit perhaps slightly more forcefully. Still, I like it.
In summary, what I really like about both these perfumes is that neither strikes me being as particularly 'Montale' in style. I can hardly claim to have extensively tried Montale's line, but these are sufficiently different to those I have tried to satisfy me and leave me feeling gratified that I stuck with my gut feel and ordered samples of these anyway, despite what some reviews have said.