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Yak Journey of the Yak album cover
3.84 | 55 ratings | 9 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Gates of Moria (3:12)
2. Entangled in Dreams (10:04)
3. Jadis of Charn (11:28)
4. March of the Huorns (12:04)
5. Dearly Departed (3:06)
6. Journey of the Yak (8:30)

Total Time 48:24

Line-up / Musicians

- Martin Morgan / keyboards
- Dave Speight / drums
- Gary Bennett / bass

Releases information

Self-released, November 14, 2008

Thanks to windhawk for the addition
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YAK Journey of the Yak ratings distribution

(55 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

YAK Journey of the Yak reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Originally active in the early 80's, it took 20 years and the dedication of keyboard player Martin Morgan to present the music of Yak to the world. Arguably not the best of band names, but thankfully the music is much better than what one might expect from a band with a name which gives some funny associations.

Instrumental, progressive symphonic rock is the name of the game here, with the keyboards as THE dominating instrument. Lush, mellow moods and harder majestic ones; slow themes as well as faster more complex motifs - the keys are ever present and totally dominating on all tunes.

More often than not we're served multilayered keyboards; up to six different layers at most if my hearing and analyzing skills were up to it when going through this creation. A minimum of one symphonic layer from the tangents will be found on most compositions, and additional layers will often be provided as organ or piano. Flute-sounding layers and spacey sounds are other often used textures from the keys, and there's also the flowing solo segments with a guitar-tinged sound to it. Additional elements utilized are synthesized versions of backing vocals/choir, lighter floating melody lines and deep, slightly ominous sound layers.

The focus is on mood and atmosphere rather than complex creations though; some dissonances and disharmonies are used as effect but most of all this is a harmonic production in a modern symphonic tradition, which I guess will be classified as neo-progressive by many.

Musically we're talking a mix of influences from Genesis and Camel mainly, with inspirations taken from the more atmospheric creations of these fine acts from the 70's. Some compositions sound more like the one than the other; but most times the music comes across as a mix of both.

It's a nice release; no filler material on display albeit nothing truly outstanding either. There's captivating moods and melodies aplenty though, and I suspect quite a few fans of symphonic rock will view this as one of the better releases of 2008.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A few days ago I received a PM from Martin Morgan, keyboardist of the British band YAK, asking me to review his album (A big risk, because when an album doesn't impress me, I say it loud and clear), so he sent me a copy of Journey of the YAK which was released on November 14, 2008.

As usual and to avoid conditioning my review to previous releases, I didn't told him I was already familiar with the band due to their surprising debut Duck Side of the Moon (Nobody could expect an original and solid release with such a terrible name), an album that was conceived in the 80's but only saw the light in 2004.

So when I received the copy of "Journey of the Yak", placed it on my car's DVD before a long travel...What a surprise, the album is even better than the already good debut, the sound of the band has evolved to such point that I believe it's unfair to have them in Prog Related, today YAK is a borderline Symphonic/Neo Prog band or at least Crossover, but shouldn't be left in a category for not purely Prog artists.

Martin's work on the keyboards is simply impeccable, even more impressive when you notice that YAK is a trio with Dave Speight in the drums and Gary Bennett in the bass, so Martin has to synthesize the missing guitars, flutes and other instruments , and his use of Mellotron is delightful, reminding me of GENESIS early albums.

But it would be unfair to rest any merit to the other members, because a band is as good as their rhythm section because they are the spine the spine of the band over which the keyboards can create and even improvise if necessary.

The album starts with the pompous Gates of Moria, but don't expect some soft Medieval Tolkien based track, the band hits us with all they have, the keyboards immediately take the lead with lush and versatile performance, but the real strength is provided by the rhythm section that carries the wight of the song.

It's obvious they have a bit of the 80's sound, but all the music has it's main origins in the classic Prog pioneers of the 70's, but without falling in the easy path of cloning anybody. Very solid opener.

Entangled in Dreams begins soft and oneiric, with a guitar entrance (Guess that played with synths) that suddenly stops and leads to a re-start with a piano that carries a soft jazzy hint.

And then, the radical change comes, it's time for a vibrant passage that had me at the border of insanity trying to discover which band it reminded me, after a couple repetitions the name came to my mind, the keyboards reminded me of UK (Danger Money era) being that Martin's style is very reminiscent of Eddie Jobson. After another radical change into a calmed melodic section, the band shows their power with the grand finale that flows perfectly to the end.

In Jadis of Charn YAK surprises with a pompous Baroque introduction with bells and organ, a soft but haunting Mellotron choir maintains the dark atmosphere and then, the band explodes in the vein of Nothing to Loose by UK but with a more elaborate keyboard, a very radical change that as usual was unexpected.

As usual the song flows perfectly from start to end, this time with less changes than in the previous track and crafted perfectly so every section links perfectly with the next one, 11:30 minutes of pure Prog Rock.

March of the Huorns is another long track that also starts with a short Baroque intro, but in this occasion they hit us with a sonic wall almost instantaneously, as in all the album, the Eddie Jobson influence in the keyboards is more than evident, but we must not forget the perfect work of bass and drums.

The constant dissonance between the rhythm section and the keyboards is outstanding, as if bass and drums were always with the feet on the ground, allowing Martin Morgan and his keyboards to wander through the space with the confidence that a strong anchor is there to take care of the coherence, fantastic team work, one of the most solid ones I heard lately.

The first part of Dearly Departed is a dramatic piano performance in which the skills and versatility of Martin are placed in evidence, then suddenly the rest of the band contributes to create a soft and lets say Classically inspired melody that works as a short interlude between an epic and the closer.

The album is closed with Journey of the Yak a beautiful song that reminds me of 4 men era GENESIS with a touch of STRAWBS, soft but at the same time powerful, but nothing is predictable with YAK, suddenly and without previous announcement they jump into an incredibly frantic passage that reminds a bit of the most Symphonic oriented works by Jean-Luc Ponty, just when I was expecting that they will finish with this energy, but the music morphs again into a more delicate finale.

It's always pleasant to listen a relatively new band making good music inspired the Prog pioneers but at the same times with a fresh approach that fits perfectly in the 21st Century.

Four stars without any doubt.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars Yak, please count me in for your journey.

Sound of wind, wind-like keyboard sound, and rumble sound of rhythm these solemn sounds, the Yak's journey's got started. Everyone might think the core of this band is keyboard play...indeed, Martin's play is so brilliant and beautiful, and he should let me imagine the sound by Asturias (the Japanese progressive unit). But I'm sure their streaming sound and wave can't be born without the rhythm section. Dave's drumming and Gary's bass play are likely to be hidden behind the great, no! Exactly their strict and natural rhythm should be the essence of Yak. Of course, that is, only these three members could form Yak's style, and this style could be called as Yak. Their excellent journey must continue, and we all fans hope that. The last song's fade-out-and-in should be the suggestion of the Yak's journey, I consider.

I appreciate your work. 4 stars.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Headphone bliss as we journey into new progressive territories.

Martin Morgan kept the Yak dream alive since the band's formation in 1982 and the result is the band are finally able to release some excellent instrumental progressive albums. The "Dark Side of the Duck" began the voyage and the band set sail to embark on their latest venture "The Journey of the Yak". The band's members have ties to prog legends Yes, Whimwise and The Enid and so you may expect the influences to come out strong on their album. In fact the influences of Camel and ELP are far more pronounced. The use of multilayered keyboards, with flute-sounds and scorching guitars are the dominant force. The Steve Hackett style guitar breaks are mesmirising. There are even passages of vocalisations using synthesizers in the soundscape.

The album evokes pleasant aural imagery of wide sweeping plains, vast mountain scapes and Tolkienesque fantasy horizons. The atmosphere is dreamy and haunting but never less than uplifting and evocative. There are some intricate complexities of music such as the title track and these sequences are juxtaposed with simple pieces such as 'Dearly Departed'. The beauty of this track is it's melancholy melody that touches the emotions, especially the flute sections that have a powerful resonance. It begins with beautiful piano, a very pretty melody that is consistent and rather sombre but utterly compelling. It is a short track but so endearing and lulling in a dreamy way.

The real feature of this music is rather than just background music there is an imposing mood that grabs hold and refuses to let go. I have heard the music many times now and it is always a new experience as the listener is allowed to take from it whatever he or she wishes. There are long lead guitar breaks such as on the title track. Morgan is masterful on keyboards, particularly mellotron, Dave Speight produces innovative metrical patterns on drums and Gary Bennett is the rhythm machine on bass.

On the opener 'Gates of Moria' the keyboards dominate and there are swishes of wind effects and a strong melody. The atmosphere transports you out of the real into the imaginary realm like all good music should. You can visualise the sounds. The opening track is compelling and has a hypnotic melody that draws you in with every listen.

'Entangled in Dreams' has a soft flute and acoustic sound. The melody on piano carries it along beautifully, and this is echoed with the electric guitar, a virtuosic performance of huge string bends and harmonics. The Hammond sound kicks in and it sounds more like ELP in this passage. This is one of the best works on the album and it grew on me very fast like osmosis. I think it is more like Camel than other pieces or "The Snow Goose" album especially, it certainly has that classic 70s prog sound so difficult to emulate, though Yak have managed to do so masterfully on this album. The ending with haunting flute sounds and ambient guitar and keyboard is absolutely spine chilling prog; a masterpiece track that really resonates with my senses on every listen.

'Jadis of Charn' features a Baroque intro and then an infectious hook in melody. The guitars are heavenly with strong string bends and they are played over relentless grinding organ. In particular I like that riff 7 mins into it that locks in and reminds me of 70s prog such as the early Genesis or Caravan or even Nektar come to think of it. I would rate this track as a definitive highlight. This is the reason I listen to prog; to discover scintillating, captivating music such as this.

'March of the Huorns' begins with Classical Baroque nuances, choral voices, and then a huge sound blast of keyboards backed by the crash of drum and bass. There is an interplay of instruments creating tension and release that all prog songs should encompass. The sound embodies a sense of wonder and exploration. The Emerson like Hammond sound is always welcome and those Gong-influenced spacey guitars that rise and fall over embellishments of sporadic drumming; a pure delight to my ears. The melody on guitar is now familiar after several lessons and always lifts my spirits high. This chugs along at a brisk pace with heavy handed piano and strings via mellotron played with dexterity by the hand of Morgan.

The final track 'Journey of the Yak' is the absolute fresh sound of Yak and this featured as a track on "Prognosis 4" that came as a sampler with the Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine and introduced me to the band. Interlaced within this last epic are some incredible proggy moments. It begins with piano and huge lead guitar in a wall of sound. It locks into a rather jagged staccato riff that sounds orchestral and the way the drums kick in is enough to gain my attention. The main drawcard is the Hammond blasts once again that remind one of Rick Wakeman or Emerson. The virtuoso musicianship of the trio is incredible and they go into full flight on this. At 3:40 a deep staccato drone introduces the new time sig and the Hammond organ crunches a wondrous motif with some soaring spacey guitar passages. The music has an organic quality with dissonances in sound and metrical shapes that fracture the rhythms. At 7:04 a warm piano chimes in and it rings the mood down to a serene feel, then the Andy Latimer style guitar lead break takes it to a new level. This is some of the best music I have heard in a long time.

So, overall the album is a remarkable throwback to all that made the 70s great, when prog was a dominant force; virtuoso musicianship, lengthy tracks, extended keyboard and guitar solos, moody atmospherics and a conceptual framework: that pertinently describes "The Journey of The Yak".

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars 3,5 stars really. Contrary to most of my fellow reviewers, I did not find this album to be that great. To me Journey of the Yak is a promising work that suggests better things in the future. Sure, this CD is very good and the group has all the right influences for my taste. There is definitive Camel feeling on it (specially around the time of The Snowgoose, an obvious source of inspiration). The early Genesis connection is quite visible too, since there is a lot of Banks-like synths. Nothing very flashy or too bombastic, but quite melodic and dreamy. However, it is still far from perfect.

One of the main reasons may lay in the fact that Yak is a trio: just keyboards, bass and drums. No guitars, neither vocals. It´s a huge challenge to have a whole CD without any other instrumentation than those mentioned nor the vocals to hold your atention. And they did it, which is proof of their talent and skill. Yet, the feeling of something´s missing haunts me and as much as Martin Morgan does a terrific job on the keyboards, it is clear that the Yak´s music asks for something extra (like a guitarrist in the same vein of Andrew Latimer, for exemple. It would be fantastic to hear some guitar /keyboards duels). The songs are all good, I always hear the CD from start to finish without skipping a single track. Production is quite adequate for this kind of music.

Conclusion: a very good instrumental symphonic record. Specially if you´re a keyboard freak. The lack of some extra instrumentation is a hindrance to them in my humble opinion. With another member to add more variety and with a little development from the songwriting department they can easily go from very good to excellent or even brilliant. The potential is all there. I´m looking forward to hear their next works.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The old Yak lineup got together for some jam sessions which were eventually released on two rather inessential releases - The Rutland Chronicles and Does Your Yak Bite? - and then the band disintegrated again, once more leaving Martin Morgan to fly the flag for the project. Taking inspiration from the best results of those jam sessions, Morgan crafted an all-new set of compositions for this true followup to The Dark Side of the Duck - and what a followup it is! With some musical pals rounding out the lineup to give it a real band feel, it's another piece of tasty neo-prog instrumentals reminiscent of Camel, early Steve Hackett solo material, and The Lens. If you liked the Duck, you'll like the Journey too.
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

Latest members reviews

4 stars My Review-Here we have the new Yak cd,There First cd was brilliance.This one steps it up an notch .Both there cds are instrumental,So I'll be judgeing the music this time.My approach to reviews,If it has vocals I study artwork.I explain meaning behind it,Then I tell you what I got from the cd mea ... (read more)

Report this review (#199978) | Posted by Jegheist2009 | Tuesday, January 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yak was one of those bands that was around in the 80s but never managed to release an album, for whatever reasons. Twenty years later, the band leader Martin Morgan resurrected some of the old songs and played them on the album Dark Side of the Duck with the aid of his array of keyboards and his ... (read more)

Report this review (#194964) | Posted by maribor1 | Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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