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The Deli Philly's March Record of the Month: Ritualize - Lushlife + CSLSX

The Deli Philly's March Record of the Month: Ritualize - Lushlife + CSLSX

Lushlife and CSLSX crafted their collaborative LP, Ritualize (Western Vinyl), over a 3-year span. The record offers a fresh perspective with each additional spin, as subtle nuances shift to the forefront.
Album opener, “Total Mutual Understanding,” gradually builds with a cinematic zoom as keys, bass and percussion interact to assert a relaxed, focused course for Raj Haldar to wax poetic. Making way to the airy opening of “The Waking World,” you are smacked with sonic waves from Swedish shoegazers I Break Horses, before crashing with intensity as Lushlife sketches the imagery of Mark David Chapman’s assassination of John Lennon outside the Dakota Hotel, which was inspired by Catcher In The Rye protagonist Holden Caulfield. Touching on a landmark moment, the song hits on a personal note of sorrow.
“Hong Kong (Lady of Love)” pounds the pavement with its slinky 80’s synth pulses, as Ariel Pink’s chorus and a velvety sax temper the determined tunnel-vision delivery, before the murderous electro-funk/soul of “Incantation” takes over. It - someday - will be known as the deep cut that gets all the limbs moving. The amplifying uncertainty of the beat in “Body Double” eventually establishes itself, as an alluring falsetto teases amidst a futuristic Blade Runner-type urgency. Haldar contemplates the reality-shaking nature of a near-death experience… “back to the soil, back to the flower beds… God and the dice tumbles.”
An epic sonic quilt is stitched in “Toynbee Suite,” which was originally recorded for a Shaking Through episode. Enlisting local compatriots RJD2, Yikes The Zero, and Nightlands, the absorbing echo of synth steers into the elegance of strings, and then strolls Philly’s streets. Yikes The Zero takes the mic during the second movement, setting a sprinting pace, which continues as the baton is handed back to Lush. It’s an exhibition of expertly textured production that spreads over expansive territory. The breezy beat of “Strawberry Mansion” takes no time to set the tone - “All I need is Henny, dimes, and bottle blondes - fine the bottom-line.” Trading bars with Philly stalwart Freeway, who brings his customary grimy, steamrolling attack, this hometown homage is honed to take no prisoners.
“This Ecstatic Cult” is a testament to craft, with its slick, cold-as-ice, blue-flamed rhymes. “The fast-talking, city-slicking, hit your betty with looks/I’m better with books and steady rocking elephant hoofs/Rolling uptown the sound, kid, irrelevant hooks.” Aided by Killer Mike, who reinforces the scenario with his own fire, the track cuts with precision - calm, controlled yet ferocious.
Ritualize closes with its title track, bathed in an absorbing, soulful, R&B beat that fits like a secondary skin. The album is an intricate collection of recordings - one that meshes a plethora of sonic surfaces, connecting them in a seamless manner. - Michael Colavita

Published: March 01, 2016 |

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