Album Review | Jonny Ong / Visions of the Aquatic (2019)

Jonny Ong

It’s not often I embark on a whole album review here on The Sound Sniffer – I save these pieces for the albums that really take a hold of me. Jonny Ong sent me a track called ‘Lost at Sea‘ from his album ‘Visions of the Aquatic’ last week and I got childishly excited about it. Back when I was a pup, I used to scroll along blogs like BIRP FM for hours on end, in the hope of catching the feeling of finding a good tune. The feeling of excitement that comes from discovering a gem is unrivaled. I haven’t had this feeling for a long long time – all of a sudden, boom, I felt it. ‘Lost at Sea‘ just did it for some reason.

At soon as the single finished I loaded up Spotify, lay back on the sofa and took in the whole album from start to finish. I was suddenly listening to a blend of music that perked up my senses. This music made me as excited as when I discovered Alt-J‘s debut album, ‘An Awesome Wave’, years ago.

The Album

The album starts of with subtle ocean sounds rippling beside the lovely sounds of the handpan on the title track. This mellow little experience sets the scene of the album and puts the mind at ease – the electronic elements that come in gradually make this a really interesting and chilled listen. We are then met by a swirl of waves crashing which leaves us flowing smoothly into the rolling indie vibes of ‘Oceanic Odyssey’ – where we hear Ong’s husky vocals for the first time. The handpan provides the dreamy melodies, the percussion and bass roll it on nicely and the vocals complete the job. This song is certainly one of the album’s highlights.

Lost at Sea

We are brought back to earth by the melancholic electronic soundscapes of ‘Submerged‘ – a song that actually reminds me of something from a ‘Spyro The Dragon’ soundtrack. I think it’s those snake-charming flutes that do it. We are given a beautiful piano flutter before drifting into ‘Lost At Sea‘ – the single that hooked me initially. I just can’t put my finger on what exactly made me sit back and admire this track so much. Perhaps it simply was the fact I’ve listened to seven thousand songs in the last six months and heard nothing remotely like this stylistically. Jonny Ong’s style is now my meditation music of choice.

We float through ‘Floating‘ – this track is the moodiest one thus far lyrically. We can hear the emotion within the pensive strings that wallow throughout. ‘The Mermaid‘ takes us back to a semi-state of zen after the intense exploits of the previous track. We even get a taste of some horns chirping around. This album throws in so many different sound components – it’s a pleasure to take in. This bouncy instrumental piece is certainly one of the most uplifting compositions in this collection.

Treasure in the Devils Lair

‘Treasure in the Devils Lair’ is next to come and displays Jonny Ong ‘s ability to create powerfully effective rolling indie music. A strong track. ‘Sapphire Tuesday‘ wasn’t quite my bag really as it was a little too rock oriented in the chorus but you can’t like them all. ‘The Voyager‘ also passed by without too much in the way of impact. The catchy chorus of ‘XXD‘ gets me back on side and I’m back completely engaged again. XXD once again features some beautiful strings and it has a lovely depth – with some female vocal samples creating a superb atmosphere towards the climax. This could actually have been the perfect closing to the album as the piano is super mellow.

In Natures Arms‘ does close out the album in a sea of animal samples, instruments and even a didgeridoo. This is a suitably dramatic end to a wholly atmospheric and intriguing collection from this talented London-Based, Singaporean artist.

I am definitely a fan of this! Jonny Ong is quality.


About ‘The Sound Sniffer’

The Sound Sniffer is a music blog which is still only a baby – Founded and run by Kevin Coakley in early 2019. He is a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists we find in our submissions inbox.

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