New York instrumentalist and electronic music artist Thomas Arsenault, better known as Mas Ysa, has been largely out of the spotlight since releasing his 2015 LP Seraph and touring with the likes of Hundred Waters, Phantogram, Deerhunter and Julianna Barwick.
It turns out there was a good excuse for the absence: Arsenault suffered a head injury in a car crash in July 2016, making performing uncomfortable and touring impossible. But Mas Ysa is back with a surprise EP and companion film featuring a cameo by actress Lena Dunham.
The EP is untitled, runs a little over 15 minutes and features five songs that run from supercharged adrenaline (“MapQuest,” “Appeal To The Panic”) to contemplative (“Hold Out”), dramatic (“Untitled (Lakehill, NY)”) and the sound that Arsenault perfected on his last couple of releases, which can best be described as anthemic island (“Face”). Arcade Fire has been trying to create a version of the latter on its recent albums. Arsenault’s is better.
Arsenault purposely avoided a title for the record.
“The songs are bunched so tightly together already,” he said. “I dont think they need a headline. I can see them all at the same time. There may be more bundles like this. It feels manageable for my current store of energy.”
He said he still suffers from several symptoms of the car crash. Arsenault took time to recover and write in Pueblo Eden, Uruguay. After returning to New York, he had the help of Damian Taylor, Michael Beharie and Greg Fox to finish up the songs.
The film was directed by Dan Shapiro and shot on 16mm film. The songs are set against slices of ordinary life: A baby eating cereal, a woman driving with her dog in her lap, a horse and her rider resting in a patch of grass, women in a diner, a gymnast stretching, a child making faces, a man tending to his garden, Lena Dunham waking up and dancing to a song, and Arsenault himself exercising on a stationary bike.