On Closer Apart, Okzharp and vocalist-artist-dancer and album co-producer Manthe Ribane link up for 13 super strong cuts of perfectly poised RNB and on the edge pop. Created in headphones during moments spent together in hotel rooms, planes and airports in the brief periods of time that they spent together writing and recording, the title Closer Apart perfectly captures the spirit of this cross the world collaboration.
As one-third of LV and as a solo artist in his own right, Okzharp has quietly crafted some of the last decades truly greatest post-dubstep music. For those uninitiated into his sound world, we'd strongly urge you to stick on Primary Colours, Beacon or I Know for some true untouchable in sheer quality trance, UKG and (decent) dubstep, each of these tunes really show the boundary-blurring approach that Okzharp brings to bass music. Manthe Ribane has also over the past decade been at the forefront of South Africa's cutting-edge fashion, art and dance worlds. So this full-length album (following on from two Hyperdub singles: Dumela 113 and Tell Your Vision) is a perfect meeting of minds, with both artists pushing the other into new territories of creativity.
During the making of Closer Apart Manthe selected the most fitting instrumental sketches from Okzharp’s soundbank and together they developed them into thirteen tracks of futuristic RNB that follows in the lineage of Hyperdub’s left of centre pop crossover joints from Jessy Lanza, yet stays true to the label’s lineage as a founding force within all manner of bass-heavy post-garage and jungle dance music.
Opener 'W U @' sets the tone for the album’s pure undiluted earworms, at first listen its sound is quite stripped back and minimal, imagine the skeletal sound of Eski melted down in form and tempo. Yet the more you listen the deeper the production reveals itself to really be. The downtime caught on 'Make U Blue' crosses some sharp grime tones that build steps for Manthe's vocals to roll down like an RNB slinky. While they cross some seriously catchy bars with a perfect loop on the crunchy highlight 'Never Say Never’ pure attitude recorded in a way that has you wheeling up the track time and time again. The autotuned glassy textured vocals of ‘Time Machine' sets out to cure all forms of universe-wide heartbreak with tears in its eyes. Before Theletsa explores the dancehall aspects of the pairs previous records with deftly satisfying results.
As this is Hyperdub you can expect a stamp of high quality yet this album really exceeds much of the label’s recent output for just sheer quality within both dance modes and summertime whip ready rotations. We can see this one quietly gaining momentum over the coming months and emerging as one of the years finest RNB pop albums without a doubt...