By most accounts, Los Angeles is a relaxed city, but when Angeleno Diego Herrera decamped for Amsterdam a few years ago, his music took a decidedly more mellow turn. As Suzanne Kraft, Herrera released warm, loopy disco-rooted house back in 2011. Over the years, his music has slowly sloughed off its chunky beats and drifted off into the ambient ether, with last year’s What You Get for Being Young his headiest soundtrack yet.
In this musical trajectory, Herrera’s not alone. Parisian producer Dang-Khoa Chau has also moved on from the sounds that first brought him attention in underground music circles; his early singles for the L.I.E.S. imprint were lo-fi and off-center, his boogie beats revealing some grit underfoot. But Chau’s more recent releases have been slicker Balearic affairs, full of glistening surfaces and gentle ripples. Collaborating together for the first time as D.K. / S.K., Chau and Herrera wade deeper into the sedate end of the spectrum, to where it’s difficult to parse just which sound belongs to which party.
“Burn” is iridescent, its filigrees of piano and guitar floating 10 feet off the ground, but aside from echo in space, there’s little momentum in the piece. That the patches are warm and radiant should come as no surprise on “Xerox,” but the fragmented drum sounds never cohere into a steady pattern or make their purpose known; the flanged, disjointed beats do little more than act like gravel in a Jello mold. The hand percussion patterns on “No Man’s Ground” provide a bit more texture and break the inertia that opens the album, giving the piano and deep bass tones something to bounce off. The synth mists and eerie ambience suggest that a more foreboding side of the duo’s ambient sound might soon manifest.