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Psychic Hotline
The Wild World of Psychic Hotline Nick Roseblade , March 17th, 2021 09:18

Ruth Mascelli of Special Interest closes the door on their Psychic Hotline project with this hour long anthology of tracks recorded between 2015 and 2019 – a perfect swan song, finds Nick Roseblade

It’s a shame when an artist calls time on a project. Especially when you’ve really enjoyed the music. On one hand you feel the pangs of regret that you won’t get to hear any new music, but there is also the possibility that they might come back with something new. I guess only you know when it’s time to leave the party.

One artist who definitely incited a party every time they played is New Orleans-based Ruth Mascelli. As well as being a member of the punk group Special Interest, Mascelli also released music under the Psychic Hotline moniker. From 2015 to 2019, Mascelli put out five tapes on underground labels featuring a mixture of synth-punk, banging techno, and bedsit synth-pop. To put a bow on the project Mascelli has released the compilation, The Wild World of Psychic Hotline. This fourteen-track album picks a selection from this short, but impressive output.

I first became aware of Psychic Hotline with Call Me, the 2018 tape released on Popnihil. Of those six tracks, three are represented here: ‘Location Services’, ‘Call Me’, and a Bouffant Bouffant remix of ‘Nightlife’. Personally, these songs distilled everything that made Psychic Hotline such an exciting project. ‘Location Services’ is one of the most upbeat tracks on the alum. Positivity seeps from the speakers. The bassline is infectious. The beats are lo-fi, but could sound incredible if played out at the right volume. Its the melodies that stand out most. Part melancholic, part euphoric. They make you want to get up and move, whilst being mindful of the past.

‘Call Me’ is a slower number. Melodic keyboardss do all the heavy lifting here, with Mascelli’s fingers gently meandering over the keys. When combined with Twin Peaks-esque synths, ‘Call Me’ has a haunting quality. Lyrically Mascelli croons about isolation and wanting to talk to someone, a sentiment which feels more relevant now than when it was first released.

The Wild World of Psychic Hotline works equally well as swan song and introduction to Psychic Hotline. Throughout Mascelli challenges our ideas of what punk could and should be. By using drum machines, synths, and keyboards, they craft iridescent lo-fi pop that still has passion and power. Of course this is nothing new, but in Mascelli’s hands it does feel exciting and subversive. If Psychic Hotline is over then Mascelli can feel proud to leave a strong body of work.