Belle Chen has today premiered her new live performance video for the track titled ‘Passages of Time’ from her upcoming album ‘Ravel In the Forest’.
Intimate settings are the best way to absorb what the artist is expressing with their music. The beauty of this video is simply captivating. Lush and vivid in it’s simplicity and profound in it’s own understatement. Belle says so much more with a piano than most of today’s music tries to convey with 32 tracks of noise. She understands how each note is a masterpiece and how every phrase is a musical poem. She gets it. Plain and simple. This is an artist that you listen to on your alone time and ingest. Take in. Absorb. It’s right here.
About ‘Passages of Time’
London based Taiwanese-Australian Pianist and composer Belle Chen returns with a brand new release with the arrival of ’Passages of Time’, lifted from the upcoming new album Ravel In The Forest out 16th February 2024 through Platoon. Born from a need to find space and peace within nature – Belle set about to create an imaginative world the only way she knew how – through music.
Following on from recent single ’Three Birds’, ‘Passages of Time’ is an ethereal introduction into Belle’s world, a richly cinematic exercise melding intricate piano passages to lure listeners into the colourful and whimsical world that Belle creates. She says: “This opening track was born out of an observation of a yellow Carabeen tree in a rainforest in Queensland. These trees live up to 800 years old, and before this ancient tree, I was in awe of the insignificance of humankind’s life span, and I began to wonder how this magnificent tree grew to witness shifts in environments as it grew from a seedling….”
Listening through the album is like a journey: we’re accompanied by birds, a chameleon, a dragonfly – the wonder of the natural world is imbued into this imaginary space. For although Belle has taken inspiration from her own forays in the forest – beginning with a yellow carabeen tree in Queensland, Australia – her distinctive music is not intended to be a straight-forward representation. Taking cues from a breeze in the leaves, Chen fills her canvas with soft melodies and sympathetic synths.
“I’ve kept things impressionistic – with space for the listener to fill in the narrative,” the Australian Music Prize nominee explains, “the most important aspect of this record is the listener, and how his, her, or their own imagination enables them to find that wonderful, inquisitive forest from within.”
Moments of tribute and acknowledgement to French Impressionist composer Maurice Ravel are dotted throughout the album, with short melodic motifs appearing and disappearing in the fantasy-filled ‘Kingdom Animalia’ and the lilting ‘And It Rains’.
‘Ravel’ could also be read as ‘ravel’ – a hint at the music’s continual growth; a subtle development like the balling of wool. There is a counterpoint too – the unravelling – heard in the fast-paced ‘The Dragonfly’ and ‘My Deers’. Here is a strong visual representation of the titular creatures moving through the forest: we follow, taking in the world from their point of view, propelled by the energetic backdrop. While there is a definite hum of wings in ‘The Dragonfly’, the piece leaves room for the listener to find their own imagery – unlike Rimsky-Korsakov’s iconic 1900 piece Flight of the Bumblebee, with its frenetic buzzing phrases, Chen shows rather than tells.
The album was mixed at Platoon’s state-of-the-art mixing studio by Dougal Lott, mastered by Dave Darlington at Bass Hit Studios in New York City, and includes a compelling spatial audio mix by Stan Kybert of Music Immersive. Belle’s diverse and intriguing approach to creating music is self-evident through this record, which includes the Budapest Art Orchestra in the shimmering ‘Closer’ and atmospheric ‘Moonrise.’
Ravel In The Forest is a record that easily defies categorization, with a collection of works that evokes and will connect with the audience in a multitude of ways.
About Belle Chen
With a distinctive combination of piano melodies and evocative synths, pianist-composer Belle Chen’s soundworld straddles acoustic and electronic realms. Born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Chen grew up in Australia and New Zealand before moving to the UK. She’s just as influenced by travel and people as by her classical training, and her music spans multiple genres.
Chen performs across the globe, with performance highlights including the Royal Albert Hall’s Steinway Series, Milano Piano City Midnight Main Stage, Her Majesty’s Theatre Adelaide, Kulturhuset Najaden Concert Hall and the National Theatre of Korea. Chen was the first Australian artist to officially showcase at Classical:NEXT, where she performed in 2018.
Her recent commissions and syncs include those for BBC Sounds, BBC Concert Orchestra, Gucci Archive, London Fashion Week, Shanghai Fashion Week, and The Joffrey Ballet Chicago. Recognized as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Belle Chen is also a Yamaha artist.
Featured image by Matthew Johnson.