mas-ysa

Thomas Arsenault has all the ingredients in place to make some pretty out there music. A visual artist who has housed exhibitions across Brooklyn, shared a studio with the likes of Laurel Halo and EMA and toured with Purity Ring and Deerhunter, he’s certainly received a good musical education. Debut full length Seraph, however, fails to meet the high standards of any of these contemporaries. Sure, creating a happy hinterland somewhere between Postal Service and Son Lux, combining the intimate, emotionally charged ambience of the former with the spliced up hip-hop influences of the latter sounds great, but in practice it’s a surprisingly featureless plateau.

Arsenault’s mawkish and melodramatic vocal veers between hushed whispers and straining vibrato (see ‘Garden’ and ‘Gun’ for particularly grating examples) as he tries to inject some character into the undeviating electronic backdrops. There are a few welcome tropicalia influences but it’s hard to get on board with an album that feels like it should be played with an accompanying installation or, worse, in the gallery’s gift shop.

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