Written By: Fletcher Bonin
Raj Haldar, also known as Lushlife teams up with CSLSX for his latest studio album entitled Ritualize. CSLSX provides blaring, synth-infused, electronica style beats that bring Lushlife’s vocals to life. Everything about the album is, as his name states, lush and lively. Each of the twelve tracks is colorful and vibrant with tessellating beats and energetic, buoyant, thought provoking lyrics. Ritualize has a truly unique sound that at times veers towards the avant-garde and slips beautifully into the realm of the surreal.
The album’s unique sound is reminiscent of Atmosphere, The Avalanches, and Hilltop Hoods. It’s chant rap, upbeat and lyric heavy. Almost every track features an underground rapper adding to the grungy appeal of the offbeat rap vibe the album promotes. And yet it is CSLSX’s presence that pushes Ritualize towards the musical stratosphere, infusing each lyric and turn of phrase with color and electricity. While the album may remind you of many things, I assure you, you’ve never heard anything exactly like this before. It’s kind of how you’d imagine an acid trip to sound, blending your senses thrillingly to the point that you are hearing colors.
My favorite track is ‘Strawberry Mansion’ featuring Freeway. This track is representative of the album at large, with twisting, complex, satisfying lyrical schemes and throbbing, experimental electronic backbeats. I also really enjoy ‘This Ecstatic Cult’ (featuring the not so underground Killer Mike) and ‘Integration Loop’ featuring Marissa Nadler for the same reasons. There is an intrinsic creativity that bleeds wonderfully throughout the album.
The track ‘Hong Kong (Lady of Love)’ featuring Ariel Pink highlights Lushlife’s lyrical prowess, weaving lines together eloquently. Each word is given its own personalized gravity, on this track especially. His songs tell stories, their depth and pain often offset by the upbeat synthetic feel of the electronica beats. On ‘Hong Kong (Lady of Love)’ he raps with characteristic controlled ferocity, “I’m used to living, black magic and black denim, I’m more a commie with fever dreams of fast women, the world spin I send them back for days.” He talks at times of mistakes, pain, redemption’s and triumphs, often over the course of one song. Ritualize should catapult Lushlife into the public eye, although his uncompromising style certainly seems irreverent of the mainstream. Fans of rap, fans of electronica, and fans of music in general should be hitting shuffle on this album right now.