Photographs by Jessica Laforet.
Thomas Arsenault’s Mas Ysa (pronounced MAAS ee-sa) is a tough act to explain part ernest singer-songwriter, part mad EDM scientist on his debut album, Seraph.
Opening for Mas Ysa, were the funky grooves of Toronto native Marlon James. Nothing in James’ performance however, could prepare for the flurry of sound Arsenault’s headline performance was about to unleash on The Drake, Wednesday night.
Intially jarring, Mas Ysa’s whirlwind of screeching speakers, deafening reverb before building toward pounding techno, offered little resemblance to his debut album.
Surrounded by a rig of rave-era synthesizers and drum machines, Mas Ysa’s techno laden performance blurred the lines between proper songs and short interludes. Making for a set that felt more like a random series of songs full of twists and turns. Stringing together Arsenault’s set were brief moments of dry, self-deprecating humour, offering a breath from the techno onslaught.
Yet for all the shocks to the system, Arsenault had a mesmerizing intensity toying between ambient, emotionally charged vocals to burst of throbbing EDM. Throw in Arsenault’s unorthodox stage presence, spastic facial expression, uncomfortable dance moves (think Chris Farley in loose yoga pants doing “She’s a maniac” from Flashdance.) and you’re left unsure what you’ve been witness to. Perhaps the best way to describe Mas Ysa is unique, and worth keeping an eye on.