John Shannon
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John Shannon


Band Alternative Avant-garde


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The best kept secret in music


"Waking Vision review"

Into High Selva review at By Phil DiPietro

Waking Vision is about all that is natural--not in the crunchy-earthy world of the neo-hippie jam, but in the sense of emotional transparency and oneness in nature that aspires to a higher plane--one they're capable of reaching, transporting us with them, through their music.

In 2001, this trio of Pittsburgh's John Shannon on guitar, Long Island's Mitch Cohn on electric bass, and Slovakia's Martin Valihora on drums issued a fantastic debut release called The Ancient Bloom. This one radicalizes their concept, eliminating more conventional structures like heads, solos, bridges, and vamps. Emphasized here are flows--peaks and valleys--waves of sound forming and deconstructing. A world-class soloist on electric bass, Mitch Cohn has jettisoned that part of his persona for this chapter of the vision-quest. Shannon's playing has become more laser-like, eschewing extended single-note passages for floating over and connecting forms.

Proof comes at the four-minute mark of the blistering climax of "Through the Canyon," then three minutes later as he takes it down to a whisper for the leadoff's "natural" conclusion. "Into High Selva" sets up a hypnotic haze for slide guitar to slice through in clear ringing hues, succeeded by distorted fuzz tones. The nuances of Valihora's snare, ride, and hi-hat work speak of a wealth of experience belied by his years, pushing the song towards spiritual heights. As Shannon progresses into the next section, it emphasizes that his single-note lines are no longer solos in the sense that they join points in the harmony. Now, he's the surfer on Valihora's and Cohn's giant sets, gleefully keeping one hand behind him, slicing it through their ever-enveloping curl.

The plaintive guitar chords of "To the Northeast" are more heartfelt rock ballad than jazz, reminiscent of Radiohead or the Smashing Pumpkins, with a gorgeously repeated modern rock drone that reappears throughout. After a moodswing, where Valihora uses his hands to make the kit a tabla and Shannon uses guitar as sitar, Shannon literally unplugs his reverb to end a sanctified take on this letter-perfect floating ballad.
For those who prefer tension and release to complex lines in composition, want their waves of sound to produce waves of emotion, and want organic song structures to recall nature, Waking Vision is good medicine.



-Go Beyond the Quiet Mind - John Shannon
label:ObliqSound (Forthcoming 2007)
-Spirit Through Sound Ep - John Shannon - 2002
-High Selva Ep - Waking Vision - 2003
-Ancient Bloom - Waking Vision - 2001


Feeling a bit camera shy


b.Pittsburgh PA. 1980
In his highschool years John studied avant-garde sound on a church altar after midnight with pipe organist Mike Ross learning what it means to become a musical "bridge". At this same time he was trained in "playing all styles freely" by saxophonist Eric Kloss. From those years he went on to a prestigious music school in Boston where he formed the evolutionary band Waking Vision. After recieving a Bachelor's in Guitar Music Performance John set out to learn from Nature feeling this was where the true music lessons were. The culmination of this period of time was the Vision Quest John took in a desert area of the Southwest. A Vision Quest is an ancient spiritual practice that involves being confined to a 10ft. circle in the wilderness for 4 days with only water. This has led him further into the path of music as a bridge to the spirit and also music as a tool for healing. A virtuosic guitar player combined with a highly evolved sense of sound and touch combined with a voice that is aware of the winds around him combined with a musical ear that ranges from Thomas Mapfumo to James Taylor to Keith Jarrett, the only word to describe this new music is "Awakening."