It has been Just over a year since Montreal born Thomas Arsenault released his debut ep “Worth” under the stage name Mas Ysa (Maas ee-sa.) That EP cemented him as an important new fixture of the electronic music scene thanks to his signature wail and ability to back it up with funky tunes all by himself and at the same time. Now Mas Ysa is back with his very first full-length album Seraph and to borrow the title of his EP “Seraph” was well worth the wait.
The album opens up with the title-track that instantly reminds you why Thomas has become a Seraph of the electronic music scene. The signature wail is there and so to are the funky compositions that we’ve all come to expect from Mas Ysa. Next up is “Margarita,” which serves as the albums single having come out a few months back. During his formative years Thomas lived in his mother’s hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil and while there, he got into the local club scene. The influences of his time there begin to show off in this song and continue on throughout the album. This is best achieved through the use of a pan flute that adds a great deal of punch to most songs on the album.
Pan flute aside the real star of the album is the lyrical content. Thomas is gifted when it comes to making art out of his feelings. Whether it is the true love Thomas is sending out in “Margarita” through the lines know me now/now my love or the pure drunken hatred he spits with blood in “Suffer” as he aggressively sings;
“I don’t want another one, I don’t want to learn nobody’s touch. She won’t want to drink this much. Fuck her.”
The shear bile of it is something Thomas told Pitchfork he has yet to even come to grips with it stating that as this point he just can’t bring himself to play it live yet.
“Suffer” is definitely the standout track on this album because of its lyrical prowess as well as the aggressive down strokes coming from the guitar, hart-pounding drum machine and South American pan flute which Thomas expertly uses as a drop of sorts at the end of the song to leave you with that aggression that has built up.
The other stand out tracks on the album are “Gun” and “I have some” these songs stand out because Thomas invites Nicole Miglis from Florida’s Hundred Waters to ad a female voice into the songs. In the case of “Gun” it ads the voice of a woman who should in all likelihood be with the man in the song but for reasons stated in the lyrics is not. In “I Have Some” Nicole adds the voice of a true lover to the mix that is penetrated by the pan flute and guitar once again to add to the light danceable nature of this song. Seriously listen to the interlude of this song and tell me with a straight face that the instrumentation and vocal harmonization didn’t get you dancing and I will personally send you a cookie.
My only grief with this album is that a few songs like “Seraph” and “Gun” have some really abrupt endings. But Thomas makes up for that with the ending track “Don’t Make,” which strips down all of the electronics and just keeps the guitar with Thomas’s natural voice and serves as a mellow closer that lets you down easily.
Seraph is exactly what you should expect a Mas Ysa debut to sound like. It is full of the electronic vigor that made Mas Ysa a notable part of the electronic music scene complimented by lyrics that at time can feel brooding but never ruin the power of the songs to get you dancing.
Luke Williams grew up a fan of punk and pop punk in a field of cows just outside of Barrie, Ontario. You can follow him on Twitter @musicwithluke