A Working Title

Shueh-li Ong

Independent release, 2012


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


The Australian-born, Singapore-raised, Nashville-dwelling Shueh-li Ong first appeared in 2003 with the electronica CD Xenovibes, shortly before she moved to America. A couple more Xenovibes releases followed; now, her latest release combines her 2009 charity EP my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Xing Paths and seven singles released from 2010-12.

Ong writes, sings, and plays all keyboard instruments, as well as the theremin, and weaves a lush, dreamy soundscape throughout the record. A bit of world music influence and a Kate Bush influence run through the tracks, yet it is evident that Ong spent a lot of time and care constructing these tunes and imbued them with her own personality.

“Déjà Vu – Love Voodoo” features Ong singing circles around herself, while “Leave Me In Stasis” is a lovely duet between Celtic flute and piano before giving way to a strident, spooky body. Both versions of the title track are present; the “Da Capo” version is quieter, less polished and a little better.

Atmospheric electronic music runs the risk of being indulgent at worst and, more often, downright dull, but Ong mostly sidesteps this with unconventional songwriting and the clear power of her lovely voice. Only “My Summertime Dreams” fails to ignite.

The Xing Paths EP is altogether less successful, seeming to throw as many tricks into “Maire” and “Fantasy” without emphasizing the melodies or the atmosphere. “Sweet Talker” has a decent rock vibe and the bassline of “Black Card Circle” is a highlight, but none of these reach the heights established on the first half of the disc.

It’s abundantly clear that Ong has many talents, a gift for sound, and the potential for greatness, simply because her sound is difficult to pin down to any one genre. This is the mark of someone worth listening to, and A Working Title is a fine, if flawed, place to start.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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