In this case, I'd say the product is, at best, highly competent.Antoine Lie's Oxygen is pleasant to wear, but its cedar and sandalwood heart veers too close to Bois Farine for comfort. And although the transparency of the composition conveys a suitable airiness, it lacks the presence and originality you'd expect from a creation named after the substance which sustains not just life but also fire.
Carbon is the only one of the five which offers a genuine surprise. Perhaps taking her cue from the notion of organic matter broken down to its most fundamental component, Françoise Caron has added a reproductive edge to this piece of work: pepper and camphoraceous elements sit pristinely on one side, but they're darkened with a prominent cumin note. Sweat and cleanliness come together in one mix, as though Comme Des Garçons' meditative 2 Man has gone for a run around the block and returned red-faced and flustered. It's not devoid of interest, but my description makes it sound more complex and multi-faceted than it really is.
Mind you, it's possible that "multi-faceted" is precisely what the brand's makers weren't going for. Perhaps they actively wanted to equate 'elemental' with 'simple' and 'linear'. If so, they've gone some way towards achieving their aim. But I'd assert that they should have held out for more original, more daring accords, instead of, say, the well-scrubbed lemon+tonic effect of Hydrogen (also by Lie), which seems to hover somewhere between CK Crave and Dior's Higher. I'm no chemist, but I believe I'm right in saying that although elements are 'basic', they're also highly individualistic. They cannot be mistaken for each other. Perhaps nu_be's creative directors should've taken that to heart when they were in the process of developing their range.
[Reviews based on samples provided by nu_be in 2012.]