Waking Vision: Into High Selva (2005)
Waking Vision is about all that is naturalnot 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 planeone 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 flowspeaks and valleyswaves 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.
Finally, in a power trio, and that's assuredly what this is, many musical burdens fall to the drummer, and Martin Valihora, who swung like a butterfly on the group's debut, is here transformed into a crushing power-prog drummer. His talent-deserving-wider-recognition work with piano goddess Hiromi has hinted at this level of technical mastery, but he simply surpasses himself here. This one, coming at 29 years of age, marks his official ascension into the league of extraordinary gentlemen of the skins!
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. Good for them for sticking together and trying as many ways as possible to jump-start the creative process, changing their name, their business plan, and their arranging approach.
Visit Waking Vision on the web.
Track Listing: 1. Through the Canyon, 2. Into High Selva,3. To the Northeast,4. With the Spirits of the West,5. Full Moon Akasha
Personnel: John Shannon-guitar, Mitch Cohn - electric bass, Martin Valihora-drums