Chopstick & Johnjon Closer EP - XLR8R

Chopstick & Johnjon Closer EP

A staple act from the Berlin underground show us how to make intricate, soulful pop--tinged house properly
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Their debut album, Twelve, gave dance music an emotional, song structured kick, but it feels like an age since we last heard from the leaders of the Suol label, Chi-Thien Nguyen and John Muder—better known as Chopstick & Johnjon. Now, the duo is back with the Closer EP, which feels like somewhat of an extension of their 2014 crossover LP.

The release kicks off with "Oh Mama," a club-friendly track that adds intensity and emotion through its looped sample, with Minimoog keys jamming along and driving the track. Snappy, ascending hi-hats, harmonic string melodies and major tones dust the rigid spine of a kick drum with an air of quality and thought. "Catamount" begins with a percussive intro, laced with thudding kicks to weigh the track down before a surprise drum roll brings in a more melancholic feel. Shifting polyrhythmic melodies, à la Inner City, maintain the swing, while the tune's guest, Ryan "Slow Hands" Cavanagh, provides rhythmic, soaring vocals that add instant chart appeal. Next, "Skin" sees the return of Twelve vocalist Chris James, providing pining vocals for this broken-beat house track, one that's full of soaring effects, slide bass and shifting tones.

Finishing off this triumphant, pop-laced record in style, "Track Of Time" offers electro-edged pop with a feel of minimalism, with Larissa Kapp offering sultry and heartfelt vocals atop of a sweeping 808 synth. After a hiatus from the spotlight, it is great to see Chopstick & Johnjon return with a big crossover record—proving they’ve been busy writing some well-crafted songs, continuing the fine work that they left off with their album.