The terpenic, bright side of Somalian frankincense (reminiscent of crushed pine needles) is given prominence in Passage d'Enfer, much like in the Lutens 'eau' which unfolds the terpenes after a fresh mint start; this exhibits a hint of pepperiness (could it be elemi, another resin?) giving a trigeminal nerve twist. The effect is dry and very clean indeed (but unlike the screechy aldehydic soapiness & ironing starch of the first L'Eau), with a lemony, bitter orange rind note that projects as resinous rather than fruity and a projection and sillage that are surprising for something so ghostly, so ethereal, so evanescent. It's the scrubbing mitt of a monastery in the southern coastline, rather than the standard aquatic full of synthetic molecules dihydromyrcenol and Calone coming out of the cubicle in an urban farm.
Still this aesthetic is something with which the average perfumista hasn't come to terms with yet; it will probably take a whole generation to reconcile perfumephiles with "clean" after the horros that have befallen them in the vogue for non-perfume-perfumes in the last 20 years. I'm hopeful. After all being a perfumista means challenging your horizons, right?
Notes for L'Eau Froide (2012): olibanum, sea water, musk, vetiver, mint, incense, pepper and ginger
Notes for Passage d'Enfer (1999): lily, incense, woodsy notes and musk.
Both are available through niche distributors at more or less comparative price-points.