Kala incenses are made by the Indian company NK Bharatharaj Setty and Sons and present products that are ardently traditional. Their incenses are generally extremely inexpensive and you should be able to pick up large rolls for only $1 to $1.50. I gave three of their blends a try a while back and attempted to warm myself to their aromas without much success. I’m not sure if this is because the spectre of the amazing Shroff was hanging over and affecting my appraisals or if perhaps I’m just not attuned to the aromas here. However there is one exception I’ll reach at the end of this short write up, but first the bad news.
I try to give incenses the benefit of the doubt and did so with Kala’s Golden Bathi. This appears to be a charcoal mixed with some herbal content with what is generally either a light or already faded oil on the top. In fact I really had trouble trying to understand what was going on in this one and came to the conclusion it must have been going for a similar cleansing scent you might find in a much improved aroma such as Baieido’s Izumi. That is, this appears to be trying to cross citrus scents with some sort of light floral. Overall it’s the type of scent that makes me think of lemon dish soap more than anything else and I found it fortunate the charcoal wasn’t too harsh otherwise it would have been a wash (excuse the unintentional pun here). In writing this up I burned about 4 sticks in a row and in that time it built up something of a floral afterscent, but it isn’t one as noticeable during the regular burn. Overall I think I gave it far more time than it was worth.
Kala’s Loban is very traditional and almost painfully harsh at times. I’m not sure if this is part of the base or a low quality of benzoin in use but I found too much gravel, clay and dirty in this scent to make it pleasant in any way. It had far too much in common with low quality Tibetans that give off tire and rubber side effects to recommend in anyway. Shroff’s Singapore Loban is superior in just about every way imaginable.
I had an initial problem with Kala’s Rajagar Bathi, but found myself warming to it in recent burns, unlike the others. This is a very small floral rose masala with a very potent top oil. Like any masala this skinny, it’s also largely stick but I found in most cases the aroma was strong enough to mask these issues. Many Indian rose masalas outside of the Shroff line really bother me in just about every way but I found this one to be quite nice, although, again, I wasn’t so positive on it until I’d gotten used to it a bit. During one burn I had just finished one of Mermade’s Aphrodesia cones and noticed quite a bit of similarity between the two in scent (although the Aphrodesia is superior in every way).
Overall my experiences weren’t positive enough to inspire me to try the half dozen or so other Kala exports. At least with the Rajagar, the one I did like, it’s cheap enough to be worth a sample, but overall the other two aren’t even worth the $1-$1.50 roll they come in. Perhaps I just ended up with the wrong ones?