Ma Nishtana are the first two words in a phrase meaning “Why is tonight different from all other nights?”, taken from the stories and lyrics of Had Gadya (the Chava Alberstein version). In a way, it makes sense to turn this philosophical question on its head and ask,?why is this incense scent different from all other incense scents???. After all, incense is a crowded genre and it really takes something special to stand out. Well, Ma Nishtana is something special.
Standing somewhere between the soaring ethereality of Comme des Garcons’ Avignon and the spiced, human weirdness of Grimoire by Anatole LeBreton, Ma Nishtana is unusual for its refusal to commit to either coolness or warmth. Instead, it is both, all at once. Its opening of smoky myrrh exploding in a cloud of fizzy aldehydes feels cooling, but immediately a bold dose of saffron, nutmeg, black pepper, cumin, and cardamom, burning through a cloud of ash and smoke turns, up the heat. There is incense ? mixed incense resins rather than any single one ? smoldering on a near-by censor, creating an aura of ??Buddhist temple’-like mysticism. But there is also the spicy warmth of thickly-fruited tea breads and pain d’epices percolating beneath, filling out the hollows. Austerity balanced by comfort. If you’re on an incense quest, then Ma Nishtana might just be your final destination.