Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

YAK

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Yak picture
Yak biography
YAK were a 4 piece instrumental progressive rock band who played between '82 & '84. The line up consisted of Robin Hodder (guitar), SySnell (bass), John Wynn (drums) & Martin Morgan (keyboards). The band stopped playing when jobs took the members to disperate parts of the UK. The material had only ever been recorded in Lo-Fi but Martin was determined that it should not be 'lost'. In 2003 he set about re-recording 8 of the YAK tracks which were released as the "Dark Side of the Duck" album in Feb '04. Following this and enthused with the response, the band re-formed - original line up, but now with Max Johnson on bass. A live EP, "Does Your Yak Bite ?" was released in 2005, and the same line-up released the jam collection "The Rutland Chronicles" the following year.

Yak had not yet managed to capture a sound real close to their heart in the studio though, but in 2008, 2 years after it's first planned release, "Journey of the Yak" was issued. On this creation the influences of the symphonic masters of yesteryear; GENESIS, CAMEL and UK; really came to it's right - mixed with dreamier and ambient segments not too unsimilar to the works of an artist like BJORN LYNNE.

It's worth noting that the recording line-up changed while the recording of this album took place. Morgan started recording this production by himself; and published some of the new recordings on Yak's MySpace page. These recordings caught the attention of drummer Dave Speight (WHIMWISE), who wanted to participate on this project. He brought longtime accomplice Gary Bennett (bass) with him; and the input of those two fine musicians undoubtedly have had an impact on the evolvement of the style of music pursued by YAK on this production.

WHY IS THIS BAND LISTED AT PROGARCHIVES:
Influenced by acts like GENESIS and CAMEL, and incorporating stylistic elements from artists like UK and BJORN LYNNE, the evolved form of symphonic rock mixed with dreamy and ambient segments presented on their 2008 album "Journey of the Yak" saw to it that YAK was approved for inclusion by the Neo Progressive team.

-----

The early history of YAK contains material written by
: : : Martin Morgan, Asheldham Essex : : :

YAK forum topics / tours, shows & news


YAK forum topics Create a topic now
YAK tours, shows & news Post an entries now

YAK Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to YAK

Buy YAK Music



More places to buy YAK music online Buy YAK & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

YAK discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

YAK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 30 ratings
Dark Side Of The Duck
2004
1.83 | 6 ratings
The Rutland Chronicles
2006
3.83 | 50 ratings
Journey of the Yak
2008
3.90 | 99 ratings
Quest for the Stones
2015

YAK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 3 ratings
Does your Yak bite?
2005

YAK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

YAK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

YAK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

YAK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Quest for the Stones by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.90 | 99 ratings

BUY
Quest for the Stones
Yak Neo-Prog

Review by Agnenrecords

4 stars I was one of those who put in a pre-order for Quest for the Stones, Yak's 2015 follow-up to the sublime Journey of the Yak and, despite a last minute hold-up from the CD manufacturer that delayed its delivery to Martin Morgan, keyboard player and keeper of the Yak flame, it duly arrived in the same week as promised. How could I not like Yak? This is keyboard-led instrumental progressive rock par excellence that references Tolkien and CS Lewis and has been endorsed by Steve Hackett. I first saw adverts for Journey of the Yak in early editions of Prog magazine and ordered my copy after hearing portions of a couple of selections from the yaksongs.com website, donating '10 to the Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary in return for the CD (a second pressing dated November 2009) and then spreading the word as best I could, buying a copy for one of my brothers and encouraging friends to give them a listen.

The trio of Morgan, Dave Speight (drums) and Gary Bennett (bass) produce a melodic blend of prog that occupies the same territory as Steve Hackett, Genesis just before the departure of Hackett, Camel and Danger Money conformation UK. To anyone who hasn't heard any Yak, suggesting that a keyboard trio sounds like Steve Hackett may appear far-fetched but Morgan employs a synthesizer patch that genuinely sounds like Hackett's portamento guitar.

Quest for the Stones carries on where Journey of the Yak left off though the six longish tracks that featured on Journey have been replaced by two long-form compositions, Quest for the Stones at a couple of seconds short of 24 minutes and Veil of Aeternum which lasts over 19 minutes. Veil of Aeternum is a play on words on Aeternum vale (Latin: farewell forever) and there is a very strong stylistic link between the two albums. The music on Quest is instantly recognisable as being Yak. The blend of old and new keyboard technology gives some haunting Mellotron sounds and some classic synth and organ tones; there's slightly less organ on the new album but the technique and attack still remind me of Eddie Jobson. The inclusion of more piano, together with the cover artwork gives an overall feel of a piece of late 19th Century or early 20th Century Romantic music, quintessentially English, where melodic motifs line up in succession and the pastoral impression is further bolstered by natural sounds at the end of the title track.

Although there aren't many quiet interludes, variation comes through multiple changes of tempo and there are even a couple of passages in 7/4 time. Morgan adds keyboard saxophone to his sonic armoury and Gary Bennett, who is solid and mostly understated throughout, adds some funky bass lines. It goes without saying that the drumming of Dave Speight, former band mate of Enid alumnus Nick May in symphonic prog outfit Whimwise, is absolutely perfect so it comes across as a bit of a surprise that the three musicians only get together for a few days once every six years or so to record an album.

The title track on the new release revisits another familiar Yak theme, another reason why they're my kind of band: ley lines. (There's another Yak release from October 2005, a live jam called Does Your Yak Bite? which includes the piece Leylines of Yak. The sleeve notes for the new album refer to finding a significant monolith, the Easedale Yakstone in Langdale - This all sounds good to me because I'm a native of Cumbria from just outside the Lake District National Park.)

There's yet another association between the live jam CD and Quest for the Stones that relates to the rather exquisite pre-Raphaelite style cover painting by Laura Knight that depicts an Arthurian hero on a quest for The Stones astride his trusty yak but close by, hiding behind a tree, there's a strange, stripy rabbit-like creature, Tog, from the BBC children's series Pogles' Wood made by Oliver Postgate's Smallfilms between 1966 and 1968. Tog, formerly a stuffed toy brought to life by magic in a battle to defeat the Witch (a character who appears in series forerunner The Pogles), is given a credit on the back of the CD for co-owning the copyright to the recording; Does Your Yak Bite? includes a track called The Battle of Pogles Wood.

The sense of humour displayed in the sleeve notes has historic precedence. Prog bands may have been derided for being serious about their music but Pythonesque absurdity made its way onto releases by bands like Hatfield and the North and Michael Palin actually wrote the back sleeve notes for Do They Hurt? by Brand X. Take note, NME, humour and serious musicianship are not mutually exclusive.

The excellent, bucolic Quest for the Stones can be obtained from the Yak website www.yaksongs.com and, like that for its predecessor (which can still be bought from the website) the purchase is actually a donation to the Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary. If you love melodic, instrumental prog featuring lots of keyboards, I'd recommend you make that donation: you get a brilliant album in return.

I think this is an excellent addition to any prog collection and easily deserves four and a half stars

 Quest for the Stones by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.90 | 99 ratings

BUY
Quest for the Stones
Yak Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Yak have been putting out a string of releases that have essentially consisted of them struggling to find their feet. The unexpected success of Dark SIde of the Duck - essentially a solo project by Martin Morgan putting some old Yak compositions on record for posterity's sake - saw a brief experiment in the old line-up getting back together which yielded a couple of inessential oddities (Does Your Yak Bite? and The Rutland Chronicles) before they went their separate ways again. Journey of the Yak was essentially a blueprint for Yak Mk. II, with new collaborators Gary Bennett and Dave Speight signing on and a new Yak lineup solidifying in the process of recording the pieces there.

With this album, everything seems to have finally come together for Yak, with a stable lineup allowing them to bring to fruition a newly matured sound in the form of two epic pieces (they'd be side-long numbers in the days of vinyl) which take Yak's all-instrumental Camel-inspired style to new heights. Perfectly matching the high fantasy concepts their titles suggest, the pieces feature excellent keyboard work from Morgan who really has space to stretch out his wings here - no doubt to the surprise of anyone who thought that yaks couldn't fly. All the hard work of previous albums has yielded fruit here, and the end result is magnificent.

 Quest for the Stones by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.90 | 99 ratings

BUY
Quest for the Stones
Yak Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Yak is back. I now, corny! After reading the recent reviews (both the 5 and 3 star ones) as well as reminiscing on the quality of their previous release, the eventful 2008 'Journey of the Yak', I went out to add this to my purchases, pretty confident in nailing another winner. Just to witness a 2 track album that runs 45 minutes was enough to get me enthused further. Yak remains the brainchild of composer and keyboard maestro Martin Morgan, ably supported by drummer Dave Speight and bassist Gary Bennett. Morgan is a virtuoso who can handle a wide variety of keys but what makes him somewhat original is his use of an electric guitar patch that gives his ivories a powerful tone. He also uses a flute patch to great effect. Comparisons to Genesis (in its instrumental packaging) as well as Camel is utterly founded and unashamedly so. Reliant on synthesizers, piano, organ and that guitar solo sound, Morgan really gives the production a full and meaty palette, well anchored by the more than able rhythm section.

The first epic, the 23 minute 'Quest for the Stones', opens on a soundtrack-ish tangent, very orchestral and sorrowful, then shuffles along majestically, cresting and diving then swooping around for another loop, keeping things intense and interesting throughout. There are no gratuitous exhibitions of technical prowess, instead relying on emotional impact and symphonic tolerance, evident on the elegant piano passages that litter the arrangement. Bennett's bass rolls alongside like a true partner in crime. Old school prog chock full of nostalgic winks and nods, bubbly synthesized passages that soar, scream and wallow on multiple levels, exuding a strong audacity and flowing change.

The second and final track is an outright classic as 'Veils of Aeternum' is probably closer to vintage Steve Hackett, very propulsive and bright, loaded with a ton of solos that sound like the Hacker, slippery and tone conscious. Some cool bass slapping from Bennett that comes from out of nowhere, always challenging and never boring. Flute frills and pastoral pools of reflection add to the mystery.

Not overtly long by any stretch (pun intended), the album has a fine flow and is perfect reflective instrumental prog. They reinvent nothing, nor do they claim to aspire to anything else , only improving a style that has had a lot of staying power over the decades. The cover art is quite humorous as one can clearly detect a mighty knight in flashy armor, sitting atop his trusted yak, whilst refreshing itself in a Sherwoodian brook. A solid follow-up and a worthy addition to any collection.

Short, compact review for a short and compact album.

4 Pursuit of Nuggets

 Quest for the Stones by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.90 | 99 ratings

BUY
Quest for the Stones
Yak Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars YAK are a British band that have been around since the early eighties but because of "life" this project was put aside until they released their first album in 2004. These guys have a sense of humour as witnessed in the title of that first album "Dark Side Of The Duck" and a later record "Does Your Yak Bite?". I agree with the majority that the all instrumental music here has a CAMEL/ GENESIS vibe as in "Snowgoose" and "Wind And Wuthering" but no not nearly as complex or enjoyable and i'm not big on either of those classic albums which is maybe in part why I can't get into this one. It just lacks anything thing that tugs at my emotions. I did think of Mike Oldfield but maybe only because this has two side long suites and it's all instrumental. There's certainly not the array of instruments that Oldfield employed as this is a three piece with drums, bass and keyboards.

Like Drew i'm a little confused that they don't have guitar listed as part of the instruments used here as i'm sure I hear plenty of that in the title track. Maybe it's a guitar-like sound that they get through the keyboards? Anyway i'm not a fan of it whatever it is. I much prefer the second suite called "Vale Of Aeternum". It opens with the birds chirping and mellotron-like sounds. Those guitar-like sounds arrive around 2 1/2 minutes in. The bass stands out a little more a minute later. We get a calm with mellotron-like sounds as these two themes are repeated later on as well.

Obviously there are many fans of this Symphonic album but the keyboard sounds just don't do a lot for me, still I can appreciate what they've done here so 3 stars it is.

 Quest for the Stones by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.90 | 99 ratings

BUY
Quest for the Stones
Yak Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Seeing Ivan Melgar (for whom I have immense respect)'s five star review for this album intrigued my enough to prompt me to seek it out. Now I have gotten to know the album a little bit, so I feel ready to voice my opinion. Yak seems to have captured some of the essence of late 1970s GENESIS and CAMEL--melody and sound, not necessarily musical complexity. As a matter of fact, some of the foundational music sounds so rudimentary as if it was constructed purely to serve as a vehicle upon which melody and guitar and keyboard soli can shine (which they do fairly well). This is, for me, a treacherous slope, as I want my progressive rock music to to feel as if all instrumentalists are equal contributors to both composition and exposition. Even iconic instrumental virtuosi like John McLaughlin, Jean-Luc Ponty or Al Di Meola surround themselves with near equals and compose for the exposure and exploitation of the full talents of their sidemen. (Usually.) Perhaps I am wrong to try to put Martin MORGAN on that level (Is he ONLY a keyboardist as listed above? If so, how does he make all those keyboards sound like guitars?), but I find myself bored and disappointed in the simplicity of the four-chord foundations to each of the suites' multiple sections (which often drag on a bit too long, IMHO) as well as the simplicity of the work load demanded of his rhythm section. Martin has managed to create some wonderful, engaging melodies over these simple foundations, but, it's kind of like listening to TONY BANKS or GENESIS with all of the lyrics removed or the watered down version of CAMEL after Doug FERGUSON and Pete BARDENS had left. In my opinion, this band (or its leader) has some growing to do before it produces masterpieces of the quality and caliber of the other five star albums in PA's Top 100. This is a very good album, a very pleasant listen that takes one on a nice fantasy ride (or two), but no more. 3.5 stars, rated down for lack of anything truly new or innovative.
 Quest for the Stones by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.90 | 99 ratings

BUY
Quest for the Stones
Yak Neo-Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

5 stars "This Yak has reached maturity"

I've been following YAK since 2004 when they released the surprising Dark Side of the Duck, an album I left in the shelve for several months because of the horrendous name (Who could imagine that an album with such a title would be so good?) and I was impressed. Years later Martin Morgan contacted me for the release of The Journey of the Yak, which was even better, but even though they were close, the status of masterpiece kept avoiding their records.

Yesterday received a copy of Quest for the Stones and my first thought was:

"A Symphonic album with only two epics in 2015? This guys must be crazy"

But now I say pleased: "This is the kind of madness I love".

Since then I have heard it 10 times because it's like a refreshing trip to the 70's when Prog was king and musicians weren't afraid of being called pompous and self-indulgent by mediocre critics, so before boring the readers, let's go to the music

The album has only two instrumental tracks and is opened by the 24 minutes epic Quest for the Stones, a musical piece that has everything that a Prog fan like me loves, long and fluid keyboard solos with radical changes and a "Marvelous real" atmosphere in the vein of Borges or Garcí­a Marquez stories that captured me from the start. They are not afraid to play long Mellotron sections that recreate the spirit of the Symphonic golden era without any shame...And I love them for taking that risk.

The second epic Veil of Aeternum (19:25) maintains the atmosphere and the style, but has clear influence from GENESIS (Wind & Wuthering era) but with a different approach that prevents people of calling them clones. The music again is mysterious and carries some sort of magic in a story told out without words, which I won't try to describe to avoid the risk of ruining the musical experience of others?.Will only say that loved it from the first to the last note.

It's my opinion that Quest for the Stones is the best album that the band has ever released and the first one that I will rate with 5 solid stars, so..... If you're a fan of 70's Symphonic Prog with a modern edge, buy this album, you won't regret, and remember, it's for a good cause, because the money you pay goes for "Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary".

 Quest for the Stones by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.90 | 99 ratings

BUY
Quest for the Stones
Yak Neo-Prog

Review by robbob

5 stars Well . What a great surprise. A very important evolution since their last work.

This album seems to be the middle work of Genesis between Wind and Wuthering and Then There Were Three...(without vocals) They should have contacted Phil Collins(sadly his voice is weal now) and put vocals to this one.

A very inspirited album .Specially the first song... So if this would been a Genesis album (W& W Collins era) surely a masterpiece ... It is still one but is so inspired in that Genesis works that is not so original.

So fantastic ,pleasant symphonic prog rock . 4.5 stars for me ....so one half more in stars score.

 Journey of the Yak by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.83 | 50 ratings

BUY
Journey of the Yak
Yak Neo-Prog

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

 Journey of the Yak by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.83 | 50 ratings

BUY
Journey of the Yak
Yak Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Dark Side Of The Duck by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.95 | 30 ratings

BUY
Dark Side Of The Duck
Yak Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Yak were a particularly obscure band from the first wave of neo-prog who broke up in 1984 leaving only a few scratchy demo tapes to their name. Cornerstone of the band Martin Morgan was keen to make sure the band's compositions survived in a much more audibly palatable form, so on this debut release from the Yak - 19 years after the breakup! - he set about reconstructing the best of the demo compositions himself.

This multi-instrumentalist task he succeeds at admirably - in particular, I'm impressed with the way he's able to make the drum machine feel like a real drummer - and the end result shows Yak to have been a very interesting band in their time. As the band name implies, there's a big influence from classic-era Camel at work, which takes their instrumental Genesis/Steve Hackettisms a la The Lens in a new and interesting direction. One for all lovers of first wave neo-prog.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Windhawk for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives