‘With hypnotic atmospherics and virtuosic vocal inflections we are encouraged to take a deep breath.’
Intro to BELAU:
Comprised of Peter Kedves and Krisztian Buzas (but joined by Böbe and Benji when playing live), Budapest based Belau serve up their album ‘Colourwave’. Racking up listening figures in the 100,000’s across their previous extended releases, both ‘The Odyssey’ (2016) and remix-centric sister album ‘The Odyssey 2084’ (2017) provided a tantalising mix of electro-beat driven musicality. However, in delivering a succession of singles between then and now – including a “chamber pop alternative version of Risk It All” – they have highlighted the beauty of their individual tracks too. Chatting about these new releases with Listen to Discover Peter says, “Music is such a big part of our lives and while the process is the same [as before], we have worked on the songs much more than in the early years.” Not to take anything away from those previous tracks, but there really is noticeable step up. Best known ahead of the ‘Colourwave’ release, opening track ‘Essence’ ft Sophie Barker wonderfully sets up the atmosphere of the album, while follow up track ‘Risk It All’ carries continual swathes of fear-forgetting musical beauty.
Bringing both ambient intrigue and percussive power, the opening moments of ‘Risk It All’ produce an instant sense of musical captivation. Little is given away about the intention of the track. Nor can we tell where it is heading. However, given those aforementioned releases, and that when limited to five words Peter uses “travel, chill, exploration, isolation and wanderlust” to describe Belau’s music, you know it is heading somewhere truly wonderful. Somewhere so wonderful in fact that in revealing a beautiful soundscape, you also hear glints of Peter’s favourite albums such as Black Sands (Bonobo), Moon Safari (Air) and Simple Things (Zero 7).
Removing any sense of musical ambiguity that may have been felt in the opening moments, driving yet hypnotic momentum sees us be transported right into Belau’s electro-ambient world. Swelling underneath, the harmonic movement is gorgeously subtle while the combination of interweaving percussive fragments add delicate interest. The most beautifully musical stroke though is how all this combines with Amahla‘s vocals above. Themselves completely showcase, they are the kind that, like the whole track, you just can’t get enough of. However, when you discover how they came about, they feel even more special.
“There are super talented artists involved [throughout Colourwave] and we asked all of the featured vocalists to take part in our journey” says Peter. This alone is of course a wonderful thing. But those of you who have already heard not just this track, but the album, will have noticed that there is a commonality to this element too. “It’s our approach to always work with female artists. Writing songs this time was really different with each of them and while we didn’t meet some in person, we talked about Belau, the concept and our thoughts before the creative process began.” As I’m sure many of you reading this will agree, for me it feels like not just the music they produce, but Belau themselves are an incredibly special artist in the industry.
“It’s our approach to always work with female artists.”
Returning to ‘Risk It All’, with the track having moved through the initial sections, the chorus sees the atmosphere wander sideways into something heavenly, relaxed and stirring. Blending rhythmical accents, healing harmonies and minimalist marimba motifs, what now accompanies guest vocalist Amahla is as gorgeous as the vocal tone she possesses. Soothing and soaring, it washes over you in way that sends just the right amount of tingles while not detracting from everything else. Together it’s a showcase sound so delightfully musical that you lap it up immediately. And yet there is more beauty to come.
Transitioning through to the latter parts of the track, the subconsciously generated sensations continue to be heightened. Every rhythmical reoccurrence and virtuosic, yet restrained vocal inflection encourages us to take a deep breath and mentally float into the air. You really can’t help but get absorbed by the sonic atmosphere Belau and Amahla are creating. But there are actual, more physical responses too and it is very much the case that when listening you may find your arms have begun to gently head skyward as well! If you do sense this is about to occur, embrace it as in doing so your experience of the track will be truly enhanced. As will the sense of musical transportation which lies at the heart of Belau’s music.
“Our main one is travel” says Peter when asked about influences “And it’s definitely not just in physical ways.” Sure you can hear the world-tinged musicality within not just this track, but others on the album. And yes the stunning music video that goes with ‘Risk It All’ makes us yearn for the ability to visit those places we see in it. But, in lifting us out of our world and into their one, we travel the most important journey of all right now: One that makes us feel at ease and a thousand miles away from any concerns.