Instrumental music is always hit or miss for me. On one hand, I love guitar effects, subtle piano, and the emotional context when things are done right. However, without vocals or lyrics to help distinguish the tracks, some songs drag (post-rock is notorious for song lengths) and ultimately get dull quickly.
Going into Jon Carolino’s On New Horizons EP, I wasn’t expecting it to be instrumental. It was tagged as worship, amongst other things. I have no experience with his back-catalogue so I can’t say if any of his other releases use vocals but, after hearing this EP, I don’t think they’re necessary.
On New Horizons manages to cling to the good parts of post-rock, while falling to the vices often associated with the genre. The songs aren’t overly “cresecendo-ey”. There’s no synth-spamming. There’s a fair bit of minimalism for sure – but it works. There’s neither too much nor too little going on. Naturally, the songs aren’t complex musically, but to say that’s the defining element of composition would be a mistake.
From the piano on The Unknown (which feels as mysterious as its title leads us to expect), to the pounding toms of Fear is a Choice, the tracks certainly clear the bar of sonic homogeneity. Guitar ranges from light and airy to a more typical rock tone.
Of course, the big question follows: is there a big finish? Personally, the closing tracks always say a lot about the entire collection and help provide some closure. Embrace the Journey does take a bit to build up but overdriven guitar bursts into the mix over a piano riff. Tremelo picking soon adds another layer right before the track, and consequently the EP, finishes. It’s strong, but it does feel a bit unfulfilled or rushed.
Overall, On New Horizons is a strong EP. It shies away from being too cinematic, and it’s also not an endless spiral of tremelo.