Thespian or Sean R. Martin is an experimental electronic artist from the UK. Being the first released EP from Martin, it was hard to predict what might come from the project. Experimental electronic acts can go anywhere, but most end up on the darker end of the musical scale. Thespian’s first release ends up going in a much lighter world, full of color and hope. Imagine his world to be painted with the pastel colors that are the perfect shades of light. One can stare at them all day and never feel bored, they are almost too dreamy and beautiful. In this sense, An Open Canvas is one of the finest electronic releases of the year.
Utilizing a wide array of tools to create this airy fantasy world, no movement ever becomes anything other than magical. The slight guitar tones, sporadic drumming, smooth backdrops, and poppy pianos are nothing short of breath taking. Mixing the amount of tools present on the EP seems like a chore, but Martin makes it sound like a walk in the park. No sound feels out of place, setting an ambient world on fire with sullen joy and happiness.
Every track is a work of art, but a few really stick out. “Bright & Blooming” is the first ambitious track that gives listeners a sense of what is to come. The slow fade-in of the fragile piano is wonderful, while the light guitars that follow will touch your soul in all the right places. The organic growth from utilizing drums to glitched electronics feels perfect despite sounding like a jarring shift on paper. “In Contrast” is a bit more mournful of a song, using more glitched out electronics and somber textures early. The more forceful tones back off later though, making room for pulsing electronics that give the song a sense of purpose and accomplishment. “An Open Canvas” ends the album on something really deep and special though. The nearly nine minute closer is what should be expected of ambient music. The soft piano that leads the track off is precise, leading the song into a faster groove later. The drums follow the piano notes with glee, growing faster and slower as the ride continues. After a brief silence a bonus track follows up with symphonic and ethereal tones to end the astounding EP.
An Open Canvas is the prettiest selections of ambiance from the year thus far. Every note is measured with the perfect tone, never feeling like there is one wasted effort or second. The fragility of the EP is it’s strongest suit, acting with a sense of soft grace that ambiance requires. The only flaw is that I only wished there was more to caress my eardrums into the soft harmonies. Thespian is an act to watch out for in the near future, especially with work starting on a new full-length record.
2. Bright & Blooming
3. Lift the Tone
4. In Contrast
6. An Open Canvas