cyBorg Queen Extrait de Parfum by Aether Arts Perfume Review
My boyfriend thinks this smells like the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I haven’t been to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum since I was three, but somehow, I can’t disagree.
cyBorg Queen was created by Aether Arts Perfume’s nose Amber Jobin to commemorate online fragrance magazine ÇaFleureBon’s 13th anniversary on March 22, 2023. And it’s all-around knock-your-socks-off peculiar.
This is not one of those generally office-safe modern plastic-y niche numbers. (Akro Ink, I’m looking at you.)
No no no. Step aside, kiddos. This isn’t amateur hour. cyBorg Queen isn’t messing around. She’s a seriously weird treat, a perfume that truly needs explored. She’s a bit of a wonder.
So I was incredibly excited when Amber was kind enough to send me a sample of this incredibly odd new release this spring.
cyBorg Queen is named after the Borg Queen, the leader of a collective intelligence (AKA a hive mind) from Star Trek. It’s meant to convey her essence: metal and polymers and wires, but also a warm, comforting musk laced with indolic jasmine and cozy almond, the kind of scents that make you want to tune out your own brain and just follow whatever she says.
In the vial, cyBorg Queen is all plastic polymers, synthetic and chemical and impressively harsh.
On skin, it smells like… hot porta-potty indoles. Intensely so. Summer music festival Port-a-John. There’s no way to soften it. It’s plastic and heat and waste. Quite warm, with impressively powerful indoles.
Something that feels almost minty about it, on the very edges. In the vial, too. Almost fruity-minty. Like one of the flavors of toothpaste they offer you at the dentist’s office. Fruity-minty-fresh.
But yes, the description of the perfume is not inaccurate. This is polymers and metals, skin and musk. Incredibly warm. Metal and synthetics and wire. Mostly hot plastic. Polymers. Skin. Breath.
And it’s musky. Increasingly musky and rich. Slowly going from shit towards more of that hypnotic muskiness. And somehow, I start to feel a bit fond of the smell of plastic and polymers.
Somehow, this is plastic that feels warm, sensual, rich, musky, alive. How can the smell of plastic and metal and wires have that warm aliveness to it? That sensual muskiness? Yes, it’s still rather porta-potty, but it gets warmer, muskier, a tiny bit sweeter.
Fifteen minutes in, it starts to be a bit charming. It’s still a hot summer day porta-potty but increasingly familiar, friendly, musky, warm. A beautiful summer night.
Half an hour in, I start to just barely imagine where the almond note might be. A certain faraway sweetness. But it’s not at all prominent. Not a significant gourmand moment in sight on my skin. No sweet almond-cherry-ice-cream note.
An hour in: cyBorg Queen is polymers and musk. Almost honeyed. That pollen-and-hormones sort of pungent honey smell, deep in there, sweetening it.
I never quite get a full jasmine note in cyBorg Queen. Just indole.
It’s a fascinating material: a little bit of indole smells like gorgeous heady flowers, while a lot of it smells like feces. It’s a characteristic component of white floral notes, particularly jasmine. That’s what gives flowers like jasmine their dizzying depth, their unsettling dirty edges, the sort of edge that makes floral notes mae you feel a little drunk and madly in love.
So what I get in cyBorg Queen is a concentration of that most heady, dizzying, unsettling element of jasmine. Concentrated to the point that, unfortunately, smells like hot shit on opening.
But maybe that’s the point. As time goes on the indole evaporates slowly, becomes more atmospheric, mellows out until it’s the most hypnotic lasting musk. Any less of it and it wouldn’t stay such a predominant component for hours after. You discover new things by carrying them out to the extreme. And that is certainly what cyBorg Queen does with the hypnotic indolic musk.
I also don’t get much of almond in cyBorg Queen — at least, not at the beginning. Maybe a sweetness deep in there that starts to lean just a little cherry-and-almond, but I can’t be certain I’m not imagining it.
It’s two hours before I really start to get a hint of anything genuinely like almond. That sweetness is growing gradually, softening. Something rich and doughy and marzipan-gourmand is emerging from deep underneath it all.
Three to four hours in: suddenly, I’m hit by a really striking sweat and skin accord. A beautiful, earnest sort of sweat. A mother’s skin, soft and smooth.
This note freaks me out because it’s so bang-on. This is the heady, musky, piercing smell of skin with a particular kind of sweat on it — not sour, not fermented, not weirdly garlicky — but comforting and soft and smooth, blending with the sweetness of the skin, almost lactonic. Maybe just the tiniest bit sour, but in a way that’s so soft and smooth and unpretending.
The shape of it feels like a long, sloping arc as I breathe it in, an elegant swoosh of a note, rounded and enduring.
I’m not sure what else to say about this note. I fear wandering in circles as I struggle to describe it. It’s incredibly intimate and personal and comforting and seeing it so accurately presented in perfumery almost feels violating in some way.
It smells like comfort, like safety, like home, like the faint sweat of someone you love after an evening out in the garden. It’s enchanting, soft and smooth, musky and almost milky. It feels like an impossible caress at the very back of my throat. It feels like what my own sweat was supposed to smell like, the grown-up, soft, slightly sour sweat I’d expected someday to have when I grew up and was a woman as beautiful and caring and soft as my own mother (before I got COVID last year and it inexplicably and permanently changed my body odor).
At this point my boyfriend came home and I asked him what he smelled. “Oh, interesting. It’s… fresh and bright.” He spent a full minute sniffing and thinking in silence. “It’s confusing me. I don’t know how to describe this. I just have no idea… Yeah. I don’t know.”
He just had no words for it. He kept going back to smell it again and just couldn’t quite understand or articulate what he was smelling.
Girl, me too.
Fresh and bright is a very interesting initial descriptor, though he did later seemingly take it back in favor of pure unadulterated confusion.
Perhaps he was picking up on the fruity-minty situation I was getting in the very beginning of the opening; maybe it’s louder to his nose than it is to mine.
The smell of sweat on skin is rather bright, uplifting. And around the edges what’s left of the plastic polymer accord does lend a certain lightness, freshness, levity.
There’s a texture around the very edges that feels just a bit powdery, like the powder of the violet leaf note in Ormonde Woman, or the powdery-sweet scent of Viburnum carlesii flowers — the kind of powder whose texture, for some reason, makes me think of oatmeal, of comforting, warm, edible things.
Perhaps somewhere deep in there is where the almond note is hiding, imparting that long-awaited gourmand texture of something just a little sweet, just a little powdery, just a little warm.
And then, coming at it edgewise, smelling it when I don’t expect it, there really is a billowing pillowy gentle soft sweetness in here that might be a diffuse, powdery sort of almond. It’s like the whole boiling-a-frog thing: the soft sweetness of the note built up so slowly and gradually that I didn’t notice it at all.
And yet, in odd random breaths, from far enough away, something in that soft enveloping musky cocoon occasionally feels sweet in a way that’s edible, like the smell of sweet almond cookies baking. It’s always instantaneous, crashing and collapsing back into the waves of that hypnotic skin accord, but I do think it’s there.
At this point, projection is rather weak — at least, on me. The cyBorg Queen has completed her phenomenal arc from melting plastic under a blazing sun to the comfort and love of a mother’s skin, frighteningly realistic.
What’s left is a decadent musky cocoon, an enchanting spell of comfort that envelops you, the soft smell of skin.
At this point, cyBorg Queen has a bit of a “my skin but better” effect. My skin but more addictive, more enchanting, more comforting. It really does feel like some sort of powerful maternal hormone, bringing instant familiarity and calm.
I’m impressed and thrown off and discombobulated all at once.
From this point onwards, that soft, milky skin accord gradually fades away. cyBorg Queen wears close to the skin the whole way through, but after four to five hours I really have to bury my nose in my wrist to catch a whiff of it.
And still, there it is. Comforting and bewitching and confusing as ever.
There’s still a hint of plastic polymers in the background, but any porta-potty impression is long gone. That mysterious, familiar musk lasts for over twelve hours, for the better part of a full day, growing and then fading in sensuality and strength.
Incredibly weird and striking. One of the most vile, jarring, comforting, intimate perfumes I’ve ever smelled, all at once. cyBorg Queen is something you’ve simply got to experience for yourself.
It’s the polar opposite of a safe scent, an easy reach, an office-safe signature. It’s an artistic experience, the sort of niche perfume you wear to appreciate, to wonder at how on earth someone could even bottle this.
And yet, it’s not a pure shock-factor scent: the musky notes here are jaw-dropping realistic, comforting to the point of being hypotic. This is like Harry Harlow’s wire mother come to life, somehow smelling of not just plastic and wires but of life and sweat and love.
Strange and sublime.