It’s tough writing a review for an album like “Journey Of The Yak” without gushing like a fanboy; especially when every note on the recording strikes a positive response. After several years of listening to hit and miss projects from once respected artists like Marillion it’s great to find a CD that satisfies from beginning to end without reaching for the remote to skip past tracks of uninspired ballads.
Talented keyboardist Martin Morgan is the mastermind behind “YAK”.
The original group was relatively short lived, existing as a collective between 1982 through 1984, yet the music of YAK endured as Martin continued to composed and record material for the next 20 years as a solo artist, multitracking keyboards to emulate a four-piece band to great effect.
After listening to the material from his first release “Dark Side Of The Duck” on MySpace I was mystified to discover this was all done by one guy on keyboards.
For his 2008 instrumental release Martin expanded YAK by enlisting drummer Dave Speight who was working with ‘Harmony In Diversity’ (a group spearheaded by X-Yes guitarist Peter Banks) as well as ‘Whimwise’ a project of Nick May (former guitarist of The Enid), and bassist Gary Bennett. The trio then set out to record what I feel was the best progressive rock album of 2008, “Journey Of The Yak”.
For the uninitiated, the music of YAK harkens back to the golden age of 70s’ symphonic rock from pioneers like Camel and early Genesis; as well as the solo albums of Steve Hackett (which is amazing considering there is no guitarist). Martin emulates the emotional sustained guitar tones of artists like Steve Hackett and Andy Latimer beautifully. I needed to refer back to the CD sleeve to see if the line “Martin Morgan plays Fernandez guitars” was listed somewhere in the notes.
The compositions are beautifully arranged and performed with power, passion, and precision without resorting to self indulgent noodling or a bombastic barrage of light speed solos and arpeggios.
"Journey Of The Yak" should also appeal to fans of UK , Happy The Man, Edhels (France), Mind Gallery, East ( Hungary ), and Solaris ( Hungary ).
What more can I say but rate this a perfect 10 out of 10.
And there is more to recommend this album than the music itself. The CD is being sold as a fundraiser for charity – with all proceeds going to Tower Hills Stable Animal Sanctuary. Yak absorbed all the productions cost, so the money collected from the sale of the CD goes directly to Tower Hills Stable.
Tower Hills Stable Animal Sanctuary is run by Fiona Oakes who takes care of 400 rescued animals including 34 horses and 35 elderly dogs, 51 cats, and assorted sheep, pigs, cows and numerous smaller animals. Fiona takes no income, there is no staff, and all administrations costs are met by private donations. Every penny spent goes towards feed bills. For more info on Tower Hills Stables see, here
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on February 3rd, 2009