Oh man this is so nice… Total Blue are the Los Angeles-based trio of Nicky Benedek, Alex Talan, and Anthony Calonico. Their self-titled album has a real feeling and mood to it. I’ve been in L.A for a few months now and it’s definitely a place where this music fits. It’s the sound of neon, late night drives, coloured skies and open spaces. It’s musical but with a groove-based backbone. A perfect place to work from and a space you can make your own… It also feels very Pat Metheny in places which is clearly a wonderful thing.

You can feel an understanding of the music that came before this that has given reference to the album. It moves from the still repetition of opener ‘The Path’, that fuses dub delays with mallet sounds, into ‘Corsair’ which has more dubs though this time also guitars and soft drums and rolling synths… The whole album has a rolling feel to it. There’s no abrasive edges… it’s a mood.

‘Heart of the World’ leads with ambience before syncopated synths and guitars arrive to colour the picture… and later a piano solo that should be at odds with the music but is really perfect for the track. It’s a collage of sorts that feels like it could tip into something else (free jazz?) but the music keeps the groove before fading out to solo piano. The A side closes with ‘Jaguarundi’. I had to search what that was and it’s basically a wild cat native to the Americas. The things you learn… This track is a beatless jam of guitar, sax and ambience… Side A done and we’re sold.

The B side carries on with the more esoteric vibe. It’s slightly more ambient than the A side. ‘Dorian Dial’ soundtracks a sunset of sorts. You can sort of hear waves lapping via the synths… ‘Chaparral’ is guitar motifs and soft synth percussion and ‘Bone Chalk’ is soft clanking drums a la Eric Serra and his Big Blue.

The album closes with ‘Pearl Plains’ which links back to the first track with dubbed synths and mallet sounds. The Eric Serra reference is a strong one. The music definitely links to that time where people would be using work station to create synthesised sound. Bamboo sounds and the like.. To round off… This is just a lovely piece of work by three people clearly in sync with each other and the goal of the music. A fine release by Music From Memory and maybe my favourite record on the label for some time. Fine work.

'Total Blue' will be released on vinyl and in digital format on July 19th 2024 by Music From Memory. Art and design by Michael Willis.