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Yak - Journey of the Yak CD (album) cover

JOURNEY OF THE YAK

Yak

 

Neo-Prog

3.77 | 38 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars Back to Budapest, Hungary on my annual return to visit my dad and of course, a little expedition to Periferic Records (yes there is such a thing as a prog store!). While hungrily (sorry for the pun!) flipping through the shelves, the salesperson put on this rather exclusive album which caught my attention and invariably convinced me of its merits, I added it to my voluminous shop cart. At first afraid by the "new age"?ish cover , I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty inside, an instrumental work of superlative proportions , similar in style to early Steve Hackett and recent the Lens (IQ's Mike Holmes) , two dudes that I dearly admire, so it was a rather easy purchase. The guitar parts are allegedly played on synths, as the keyboard parts are done by Martin Morgan (hence referred to as the ivory guitarist). What makes this album somewhat singular is the quality of the melodies, profound and rich as well as completely memorable, as if you had heard it all your life. Seduced by eschewing any kind of tendency towards wallpaper music, the music flows like rivulets of bliss, misty and atmospheric, held together by solid bass and drum interface.

"Gates of Moria" is the launch pad for the Yak's travels, a sonic luminescence of glorious proportions, long sustained notes flexing the arrangement into a symphonic overture of the loftiest order, followed by three 10 minute + epics to get things lathered up, so to speak. The music gets a little more serious and dense on the epic (and barely disguising the evident Genesis tribute) "Entangles in Dreams" where a sophisticated and chiming acoustic guitar intro that could have graced "Wind and Wuthering" collides with a massive instrumental chorus that has recognizance all over its stunning notes, soaringly orchestrated to evoke maximum emotion, armed with a full-fledged Tony Banks-ian organ salvo that is properly devastating. The "crying guitar" effect is masterfully utilized, all within a whirlpool of classic Genesisms, including ornate piano work, as well as that jangly acoustic guitar arpeggio that Ant Phillips brought to the mix. The bass suddenly gets quite robust, blasting a new progressive path forward , setting up for a long and celestial solo from Morgan on his ivory axe , howling mellotron patches in the skylight. "Jadis of Charn" proves that re-hashing old influences is not the only motivator, a clearly original epic that relies on a slightly more complex blending of sounds and instruments, still well within the symphonic formula, evoking Steve Hackett's universe but with some added quirks, bubbly neo-electronica synths to mention only one. The mid-section gets a little animated with colliding solos, soul searching synthesizer leads, rumbling organ fills and maddening "guitar" solos. Then a slower moody part kicks in , drenched in melancholia, garnished by a gorgeous lead line that basks in the deepest neo-classicism.

Third up is the "March of the Huorns" , an imperceptible ambient intro stretches into a organ-pumped ramble, a repetitive 4 note echoing guitar riff to provide depth, all knotted with some swerves and detours , a reptilian Gary Bennett bass taking the melody further along with drummer Dave Speight bashing away gloriously. The reoccurrence of the 4 gun salute only keeps things rolling tightly, launching another series of solos within the same orchestral framework.

"Dearly Departed" is a complete departure from the preceding style, a resonant, sorrowful lullaby that is achingly beautiful, the elegant piano at the very forefront. A flute synth repeats the theme in a more emphatic sheen, a joyous revelation of splendor, partnered by some huge orchestrations. A fragile piece of genius.

The title track takes the cake though, as it best exemplifies the qualities of musicianship and melody in perfect harmony, as close to classic Hackett pieces as "Shadow of the Hierophant" or "Spectral Mornings", leading Steve to probably wonder: "a keyboard can do me like that?" . Hurtling leads screeching towards the highest peaks, brooding cross rhythms (the churning organ again) and marshaling bass and drums. All the lush ingredients that make this album such a treat are here on display. The piano finale is preposterous in its infinite beauty, a sterling slice of progressive history.

This is lovely stuff that stalwart Genesis fans should lap up in pure enjoyment. If you are looking for originality then stay far away from this Yak. I for one an glad that I walked in at the right time to hear this. Timing IS everything?.

4.5 tibetan bells

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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