Track By Track: Ruth Mascelli – A Night At The Baths
Released at the tail end of July, Ruth Mascelli’s new LP is their debut. “A Night At The Baths” is reminiscent of an evening spent lost in a maze of heavy breathing and noise as Ruth describes:
“This album is an audio diary of adventures had at various bathhouses, dark rooms, and gay clubs while on tour with Special Interest and traveling on my own. It was a way of wrapping my head around my own experiences in those very specific surroundings but also an attempt to connect to the current of queer history flowing through those spaces. Cruising dystopia, libidinal contact, anonymity & risk – rites of passage with a potent lineage.
I was in a particularly dark and cavernous sex club when I heard an unstable melody crackling from down the hall. Instead of a proper sound system this place had the kind of network of tinny intercom speakers you would find in a school. The sound of a degraded pop song several rooms away getting lost amidst the chorus of heavy breathing was the starting point for this project.
I think of each individual track as it’s own room or physical space. Some may be lonely, some crowded, but I tried to leave them open enough to walk around and explore.”
I could expand upon this and explain just how crucial this record is. However, Ruth summarises and conceptualises the music far better than I. In their words below…
It was cold outside but you’ve paid your fee and the outside world no longer exists. Rather than take things slowly you decide to immerse yourself immediately. It’s hard to see who’s in here through the maze of steam and sweat. An interlocking grid of bodies. Fraternal, paternal, whatever. Your inner monologue shut off for an entire five minutes as you sank deeper into your own body in order to transcend it. Intimacy and contact are totally abstracted. There is some primal alchemy that occurs in the swapping of spit.
I am walking down the red-lit hallway with rows of doors on either side. It looks like the set for a lurid motel in some horror show except the walls are all made of shiny metal. Easier to clean. Some doors are open expectantly, some slammed shut. Despite the loud music you can hear everything. Behind each door a one act play is occurring.
One For The Voyeurs
When you are too cheap to pay for a room or just can’t afford it the whole world becomes your stage. The overwhelming desire to be watched isn’t something I’ve personally felt but I understand that everyone has to play their part. I occasionally open my eyes to see the ever shrinking and expanding crowd of men around me. Like a greek chorus or a gathering of sleep paralysis demons. This one goes out to them.
Impulse spills over into compulsion. Awake for days, insatiable. I admire you for your derangement but I’m afraid to let myself go like that. The void is too big. The door is always open.
I didn’t realize you could get out on the roof. An older man in fishnets and pleasers reclines on the lawn chair next to me. The air is less heavy out here. My new friend offers me a cigarette.
Circle of Shit
One for the workers. The endless cycle of consumption and excretion. Here comes the clean up crew. Always another mess to be dealt with. Your card has been declined. Pasolini was assassinated. Your shift starts in 15 minutes.
It’s nice to watch the city come to life from the window of a taxi. Your body is exhausted but your mind is on fire. Sleep is impossibly complicated. There are joggers and trash collectors and young professionals on the way to the office. There is a whole colony of people living under the overpass – they are wide awake too.
At that moment I could feel the presence of everyone, throughout all timelines, who had ever stepped foot in the room. I felt their loving courage and their absence. I try to live by their example but I’ve always been morbid. There are just so many ways to go. Mourning is eternal. Somewhere there is always a dirge playing. You can’t dwell on these things forever but it doesn’t do you any good to ignore them.