Review: OKZharp & Manthe Ribane come together in Closer Apart

OKZharp & Manthe Ribane | Closer Apart | Black Major Release / Hyperdub

Release date: 6 July 2018

Written by Jenna Dreisenstock

In experimentation and collaboration, the ability to bring within the other – influences and experiences unknown to the outside – to combine all forms of expression from the individual soul and create performances, to create artworks: which ring true to each unique being in auditory experience. To learn whole new ways in which to create and to share; ourselves and our voices. To be present in the homes we’ve built inside ourselves, to continue layering, to break and rebuild; or to let others in and build something entirely new.

From both farther away and closer together, South African born turned UK based Hyperdub Producer OKZharp and multi-talented South African artist and musician Manthe Ribane come together perfectly in their latest album ‘Closer Apart’ – said to have been composed mainly in moments of brief reflection; when ideas would spring to life and collude as the duo built their sound both in the short times they were able to physically spend with one another, and the times in which they had to spend apart – ultimately bringing the album together seamlessly, perfectly fitting the title.

A hypnotic ambience encases delicately with ghost artificial, a slow, heavy fuzz – dark lush in backdrop to Ribane’s alluring, lovingly longing vocals opens ‘W U @’ – introducing the rich velveteen mesmer of the album’s charm as the introduction track. Engulfed in shawls of twilight desolation, the soundscape builds dreamlike and confident in companionship with the taut heart-string cuts of Ribane’s yearn. Textural electronics sprout in gentle swirling bloom with a back and forth between ambience and heavy bass, a seascape drench building foundations of a forthcoming uptempo; confidence in an assertive beat and a heartbeat atmospheric plunge swirl in urging movement amongst Ribane’s cut/paste harmonies.

In a tangy treble synth, metallic 80’s nostalgia opening – ‘Why U In My Way’ greets us with effect heavy melodic melancholia on keys. Submerged in seascape timbres and bubbling echo, a strong bassline embraces it’s vocal ally; a drive forward in vocal line and sturdy direction. The robotic tone of vocal harmony sings heavy and bursts with a percussive aura and urge, honeyed vocals in R & B style and sound reminiscent of the immersive instrumental hip-hop timbre artists such as Arms & Sleepers. A drench-glitter and glitch simmer in assertive bass and dance, with auto-tune harmonies and experimental synths.

A glass-sphere percussion introduces ‘Blue Tigers’ with instant intrigue, the smooth density of the driving beat weaving seamlessly with the striking higher-pitched timbres. Building a foundation heavily immersive in the trip-hop instrumental, Ribane’s vocals materialize in glow – her call and a sweetened repeat in texture. Engulfed in the foundation of mesmer and the bubble-pop of strong vocals amongst the dance, R&B ballad influence sings tenderly in auto-tune harmonies: an eclectic breakthrough to bold percussive overwhelm, texturally climactic and baking into experimental pop as the auto-tune vocals spill inward and out.

Bird-chirp chimes glittering above tender density, as ‘Kubona’ introduces in solid foundation of textural juxtaposition, an assertive bass working in tandem with the high-pitched chime-chill. A flowing sea-scape of atmospheric tone sweeps in with glow and tender, as Ribane’s striking vocals glitter, touching home-roots as she sings in Sepedi (aka Nothern Sotho, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages) and smoothly transitions forward into an animated tone of colourful beat-driven pop in a way that inspires dance yet shares in intimacy. Built with many textural foundations the track seeps through heavy bass, amongst R&B ballad (combined) pop-love vocals and percussive dance in an atmospheric mesmer.

In an exploration of intimacy in sound, a vulnerability in imagery and rawness of creation and collaboration by two individuals: creating, learning and growing in locations that may seem like entirely different worlds to one another while still feeling like home; Closer Apart brings forth an auditory experience in which genre-defy is woven seamlessly into a unique, alluring sound both in upbeat animation and a longing melancholia.









Purchase Closer Apart by Okzharp & Manthe Ribane

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(Photo Credit: Chris Saunders)