Chopstick and Johnjon - 'Twelve' - Cover- 2014


01. Run Slowly
02. Comets
03. Twisted feat. Tanner Ross
04. Silent Sea
05. Dissolving Spaces
06. Erase These Images
07. I Will Follow
08. Pining Moon
09. Nothing Yet feat. Tanner Ross
10. Roots
11. Dreading The Light
12. Pining Moon (Acoustic Version)

It looks like dance music finally rediscovered the importance of a certain human component. And we’re not just speaking of DAFT PUNK here. Sure, you won’t find such tunes in the dark rooms of the Berghain but when you look in sunnier places you’ll find plenty of different approaches to dance music. For a couple of years now Berlin-based label SUOL offers a decent mixture of smooth house beats and soulful vocals. All the acts tend to walk a soft balance between traditional songwriting and grooving bass lines. FRITZ KALKBRENNER might be the most famous example of this. His 2012 album Sick Travellin’ already was a step into a more mature direction. Two years later his ‘bosses’ take it one step further.

SUOL label owners Chi-Thien Nguyen and John Muder – aka CHOPSTICK AND JOHNJON – really took some time for their debut album. After countless EPs, stand-alone tracks and remixes Twelve arrives just in time for the beginning of spring. And these two gentlemen really understood to deliver an album that comes along with a coherent mood. But did we say two? Three might be the more appropriate number since Chris James, singer of the band STATELESS, plays an essential part in the being of that album. He’s featured on eleven of the twelve tracks, giving the sound of CHOPSTICK AND JOHNJON a proper voice. The vocals of the British singer perfectly fit with the sound of the two German producers.

Run Slowly opens the album by giving it the right setting. A smooth beat – not too slow but also not too fast, dreamy guitars, gentle synthesizers and a melancholic cello. James’ voice becomes the flowing blood to the producers’ heartbeat. His demand on taking things a bit slower marks the perfect theme for the whole album. The opening of the album is laidback with Twisted being another highlight. Pretty soon Twelve paces up. Silent Sea arrives with minimalist and techno-esque beats before Dissolving Spaces makes the kick drum pump even harder. But even here the tender xylophone and the soft cello keep the ‘soul’ element within the song. Pinning Moon marks another highlight – especially when it becomes pure folk glory in the acoustic version that closes the record.

CHOPSTICK AND JOHNJON understand how to change the dramaturgy just in time to keep the listening experience on Twelve as diversified as possible. It’s a ‘part#time’ club record that will also work once you’re leaving the sticky club or the crowded open air rave and drive your bicycle back to your apartment. It’s for sunny evenings, cosy mornings and generally friendly environments. And let’s be honest – that’s sometimes way more appealing than a darkroom.

Smooth house beats, soulful vocals and a cosy atmosphere – CHOPSTICK AND JOHNJON’s debut album ‘Twelve’ delivers the essence of their ‘Suol’ label formula.

NBHAP Rating: 3,5/5