To most people sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, sky is home. Todd Mosby’s “Aerial Views” captures this feeling perfectly. His father was a professional aviator, and the album is inspired by early childhood experiences piloting his father’s plane. The way Mosby communicates this profound sense of freedom is nothing short of masterful. “Aerial Views” is without a doubt one of 2020’s finest New Age music albums, and the best so far in Mosby’s series dedicated to the natural elements. “Aerial Views” takes off like a true aviator, totally at ease and confident. With Mosby in the cockpit, you know that you will arrive safely.
Todd Mosby has created a new musical syntax integrating Indian classical music and Western music. His 13-year study of traditional North Indian music with his neighbor and guru-ji Ustadt Imrat Khan led to the development of acoustic and electric versions of the Imratguitar, a hybrid sitar-guitar. “Aerial Views” follows “Open Waters” (2019) and “On Eagle Mountain” (2016). In our review of “Open Waters”, we wrote: “It is easy to understand why Todd Mosby is being called a guitarist’s guitarist. He gives the word perfection a new meaning.”
“Aerial Views” is produced by Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton. It features a cast of world-class musicians: violinist Charlie Bisharat, bassist Tony Levin, drummer Jerry Marotta, bassist Michael Manring, percussionist Jeff Haynes, multi-instrumentalist Premik Tubbs on soprano and lap steel, Lola Kristine on piano and vocals and others.
Mosby wastes no time with the take-off. That is just a formality. On the album-opener, “Gliding”, we are already way up in the air and enjoying a magnificent panorama. Mosby plays the acoustic and electric Imrat guitar (an 18-stringed sitar-guitar hybrid bridge instrument created by Ustadt Imrat Khan, Kim Schwartz, and Mosby. The Imrat is heard on four of the tracks). The soprano saxophone sounds carefree and airy. Notice also the complex layers percussion, indicating speed and altitude. “Gliding” is a welcoming album-opener that sets the bar sky-high for the following pieces. Bravo!
“Across America” is all business, with a commercial pilot’s eagerness to cross the continent with zero delays. But as Bisharat’s one-of-a-kind violin cuts in, we see how even a pilot with over 10 000 flying hours under his belt can’t help being amazed by America’s incredible beauty – best seen from the skies. “Across America” is a landmark piece, a winner from start to finish.
“Aether” takes the album in a new direction – way slower and more contemplative – but it is in tune with Mosby’s natural elements series. Its free-flowing vibe is perfect for meditation and dreaming. With “Earth & Sky” Mosby is back on track. It features Tom Eaton on the Fender Rhodes keyboard, but even his brilliance fades compared to the inspired guitar segments by Mosby and friends.
There is something magical about night flights. One of the finest pieces on the album is the six minutes long “Into Starlight”. It is a feast for the ears and a delight to the soul. Notice the build-up and how it almost stops, before continuing with renewed force. Lola Kristine’s vocal adds a human touch. With “Sylphs” we are back in “the elements department”. The mythological air spirits seem to dance to the tune of Mosby’s guitar.
Between the Clouds
We are entering a more meditative part of the album. It is a wonderful opportunity to kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride. “Between the Clouds” has some of the sounds that have made FLOW into such a success (which is also recorded by Ackerman and Eaton) – and Mosby is easily on par with this New Age music supergroup. It also has a lovely 1980s Windham Hill Records vibe, which is a statement of the overall quality. The piano and saxophone segment sounds fantastic! There is also a nice touch of smooth jazz all over. Just check out “Blue Horizons” and you will be amazed.
Remembrance is a keyword here too. Indeed, the album is a walk down memory lane (or, should I say, a trip down the memorial landing strip?). “To the Sky” has a healthy dose of melancholia, making us reflect on our desire to simply fly away – and when the title track comes on, it feels as if we have finally reached our destination.
The ending of the album is playful and optimistic. “Solo Flight” has a slow start, but when it is airborne it turns out to be a great track with a cool edge. “Shining Light”, which also features vocal and lyrics – and even gospel! – illuminates the runway as the album goes in for a landing.
The cover artwork reminds me of another album by a guitar-playing lover of aviation: Mike Oldfield’s “Five Miles Out” (although this was inspired by a near-fatal flight that Oldfield had experienced from Barcelona to San Sebastian, where his plane flew through a thunderstorm). There are, luckily, fewer dark clouds on “Aerial Views”.
In conclusion: Next time you go flying, make sure to bring Todd Mosby’s “Aerial Views” with you. If you already love to fly, its ambiance will match and compliment your emotions. Or, if you are afraid of flying, it will be even more useful. Mosby’s confidence in air travel and its exquisite (and almost meditative) qualities will soothe your nerves better than a Valium. It seems to guarantee that you will land safely, instead of just dulling your senses. “Aerial Views” is recorded with world-class performers only, and all levels of the production are top-notch. But the best part is that each piece on “Aerial Views” communicates a child’s eagerness to explore the skies and be free as a bird. That is a triumph!
Score: 97/100 – See our scoring policy
For more information and music samples, visit toddmosby.band