As far as I'm concerned, any brand which releases only one new perfume per year is worthy of serious attention. In an environment where even niche outfits seem unable to let a few months go by without accosting all-too-confused consumers with yet another creation, perhaps the best way to get people to sit up and listen is by realising that less is more. In 2013, Atelier PMP gave us Dreckig Bleiben, a well-made, if somewhat forgettable, woody-balsamic scent, put together by Mark Buxton. With commendable patience, they've waited twelve months before unveiling the follow-up: Concrete Flower (also composed by Buxton).
The press info states that it's an attempt to add a modern twist to the classic eau de cologne structure, and that certainly comes across: there are enough citruses and bitter herbs here to justify the marketing blurb. But it would be wrong to categorise Concrete Flower as nothing more than a cologne. Like much of Buxton's work, it revels in the synthetic, using what must be a lab-ful of chemical concoctions to tread a fine line between the natural and the man-made. Yes, the fruits and greens are present, but they're edged with a curious, sci-fi sterility, an unusual coldness which extends to the un-pindown-able floral at the scent's core. The effect is odd and compelling, and although it may not last terribly long, it holds the wearer's attention until the conclusion of the drydown.
Personally, I would have preferred the weirdness to be louder and more diffusive, but perhaps the relative quietness is the brand's concession to commercial tastes. Volume aside, this release represents what I often consider to be the most exciting sorts of niche scents: those which look to the future. Concrete Flower gamely tries to turn the natural on its pretty head and offer up a surrealist vision of alternate realities. Its petals may be more plastic than concrete, but I'm not complaining. At least they're not predictably pink.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Atelier PMP in 2014.]