The second offering from Singaporean multi-instrumentalist psychedelic rock master, Jonny Ong, details the stages of his grief in the wake of a painful breakup. Straying close to the precipice of despair, but never quite surrendering to the abyss, Isolation is an odyssey of an album, taking us on a journey of sound and emotion.
From the very first few bars of the second track, Fools, it’s clear that Jonny Ong is utterly committed to the mission statement of this album – to convey complex and painful human emotion through music to the best of his ability, and to do it with beautifully lush arrangements and instrumentation whilst doing so.
A chronicling of heartbreak defined by his ability to look forwards and back simultaneously, Isolation is truly a remarkable career high point. Ong is a masterful storyteller, weaving tragedy and hope together seamlessly and relatably, for anyone who has ever experienced love, heartbreak, and all the other feelings in between.
Highlights include the duet with fellow Singaporean Inch, whose delicate falsetto complements Ong’s powerful lower register in Taking Silence – a floaty, neo-soul-like number that descends into chaotic doom-fuelled riffs at the end of the song to hammer the point home. The horn section backs up the change in tone and the end result is something truly spectacular.
With its cinematic sumptuousness, fusion of the classic and contemporary, and songs that unfurl gracefully, Isolation is an album destined to make people feel less alone. “On my previous albums, I’ve focussed on the handpan – this time, I wanted it to be all about the songs,” he says. “And to realise that if you have something negative in your life, try and do something positive to get over it. No matter what happens, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”
Isolation is out now.