"Your CD leaves little doubt that Prog can have creative interest that takes it well beyond its 70's roots in the hands of someone who can not only play, but also has something to say. Great compositions, great arrangements, great solos, great energy! I also like some of the more pensive tracks, like The Swan, which shows a sensitive side. Really nice album ! Looking forward to future releases.
Please tell those were real drums and real bass guitars and those parts were not done on your Kurzweil keyboard. Unbelievable!" - Peter Schouten - Pyramid Sound
You guys are absolutely phenomenal ...easily my favorite MySpace discovery. I have antiquated dial-up so rarely get an opportunity to listen to all fours tracks from a band in a single sitting. It takes so long I listen to one or two (maximum) before getting pissed and move on. If a band sticks in my mind I return and listen to the remaining tracks. But after listening to Gates Of Moria I was hooked. The French group Edhels is high on my list of great instrumental groups their sound is similar to the solo work of Steve Hackett and Gates Of Moria is reminiscent of their best work.
Theme is a beautiful atmospheric piece which could easily have been featured in the closing credits of the Ridley Scott movie ALIEN. Then comes Yakrise which begins with a series of eerie chord progressions then busts into what could easily have been a lost Pete Bardens era Camel track from The Snow Goose sessions. Absolutely fantastic!
And just when I thought things couldnt get any better, the final track Leylines Of Yak literally smokes great composition, excellent musicianship you guys are a true Prog Lovers wet dream.
Prognaut Ron has just taken me on to help with his reviews and I only wish YAK had been one of the CDs he sent. Although Im afraid I might have come across as a real fan boy after gushing about the tunes.
I will be visiting your website and tracking down the CDs. This stuff is right up my alley.
"Got the album, thanks. It's really great. I especially like the full-on prog/fusion tracks like Leylines of Yak" - Scott, Keyboardist with the band Coralspin. "This album may take its time to grow on you but when you realise it was all done by ONE MAN, for every single instrument you hear, what can you say? Give it a listen and be overwhelmed!" - Imogen Reid - ProgArchives - see Imogen's full track by track review HERE
"I would highly recommend this as an excellent listen !! I have found it addictive and liken some of the tracks to one of my all time favourite bands 'Focus' - I hope this is a compliment. Very much looking forward to the next release." - Gail Hart
"I absolutely loved the CD! I wish I could get that clarity of production and such a wonderful piano sound. I'll have to start spending money again! The music was right up my street. I liked every track and the influences were so well shaped by your own creativity they all sounded unique. If I had to name a styles that reminded me of other music it would have to be The Enid, ELP, Yes, The Lens, Bruford and perhaps a bit of Satie? Wonderful stuff. I look forward to hearing your future projects". - Dave Hopton - Musician - READ DAVE'S FULL REVIEW HERE
"Dark..Duck marvelous!. Reminiscent of Weather Report, Jan Hammer blended with a smattering of Camel. When will the sequel be issued?" - Ralph Seabag-Montefiore - Musician
"Have listened to THE CD loads and loads (after I'd managed to get the tomatoes cleaned off the CD platter) and it proves that the arch exponent of thinking-man's keyboard driven instrumental prog rock is alive and well and living in Asheldham. My only criticism is it's a good length album for vinyl but too, too short for CD (and my car journey into work). Actually I think it's quite an eclectic collection of tracks that hangs together rather well as an album - Mr Morgan should definitely give up his day job.
"Leylines" (track 3) was already familiar from an original '80s Yak tape now sadly long since unplayable (how long before we're saying that about CDs?) - but I like this re-recorded version - initially my favorite track due to the familiarity I think (and the splendid new oriental motif MvM has sneaked in near the beginning). However, my current favorite is actually the first track "Theme" (I'm listening to it as I write). A short but wonderfully evocative piece, with echoes of Brian Eno and Barber's Adagio for Strings - sounds particularly fine when played at a reasonable volume (or unreasonable, if you're my wife) on the decent hi-fi. "Aragorn" is another stunning track with a sweeping theme that captures the majesty and strength of its subject.
It's difficult to pigeon-hole Yak. The sound has been likened to Camel and there is a distinctive Bardens influence there. I would in no way categorise Yak as "a tribute band" - but I think there are some nice tributes to Bardens in MvM's music. This is a great proggy album and as the doleful piano arpeggios of the last track "the Swan" die away all too soon, you are left wanting more... roll on the next album" - Trevor Mann - Wizard 2nd class
"This really is a little gem of an album. Highly recommended. Well balanced tracks that evoke memories of keyboard artists such as Eddie Jobson (UK/Curved Air), Tony Banks (Genesis) John Beck (It Bites) whilst still retaining a sound and arrangement all of its own.
All tracks are worthy of praise, from the atmospheric introduction track "Theme", through to the moving last track "The Swan" and its difficult, to pick a single favourite. However, if pushed for only one track I could add to a compilation of Artists, I might opt for the excellent 'Frustration', or 'Earthogrub' - probably! A very easy to access album, whether whilst driving or to wind down at home. This should be in your collection, so don't mess about - go and get it! - Bob Wallis - Musician
Ambient symphonic, with clear influences of Pink Floyd (not just in title) Brian Eno, some Camel and kindred soft symphonic bands, but not as good as mentioned bands. Of course this is an album released years after the original writing, and the artist is still enthusiastic about his work, and rightfully so, for despite my low rating
(1 star out of 5 !) it's not all bad.
Some nice melodies and themes run through the mix, but the pace in which the songs develop is a bit too fast, especially the drum sounds rather contrived and high paced. The album is all instrumental, mainly focusing on piano/keyboard melodies, some people may like it, but it really is music light.
If you like Brian Eno's ambient records of the late 70's and some Camelesque instrumentals, and don't mind some cheese. this album might be interesting, but don't expect similar quality as mentioned bands.
I admittedly do not know a lot about the band or the history of the unrecorded UK band YAK, but the keyboard based interpretations of this lost music as performed by their founder and keyboardist Martin Morgan is highly convincing. Performed all from Morgan’s keyboards this music is an instrumental odyssey into the work of the music of YAK. In many ways the music on this CD reminds me of Canada’s Ken Baird (of course without the vocals) with his host of keyboards and keen sense of melodicism. Obviously YAK were highly influenced by the music of Genesis with many of their musical mannerisms running thru their music. It was really a darn shame that the original band did not make an official recording as I am sure it would to this day be regarded as perhaps the one that got away. Martin Morgan's keyboard work and sounds are fantastic and IMHO is a great CD to listen and in no way sounds like a CASIO concerto (like many do !). For CD order info and/or contact info please contact Martin directly at www.yaksongs.com.
The first tracks on Dark side of the Duck somewhat remind me of the instrumental side of Tony Banks. They feature some very emotional keyboards often followed by a more up tempo section that usually feature some nice keyboards runs and busy drumming. The instrumental part of Genesis' "Cinema Show" would be a pretty good reference IMO.
Later tracks like "Migration" and "Earthogrub" have a spacier and even funkier feel to them. Perhaps it could be compared to some of Bjorn Lynn's less epic music. Finally, Dark side of the Duck concludes with a very beautiful piano piece.
Those of you into Banks and Lynn should check Dark side of the Duck out. The music it features is just as good as anything these two well respected musicians have ever put out. I only find two drawbacks to this very good CD. At 32 minutes it is very short and the front cover is one of the crappiest I have ever seen. Don't let this stop you from checking Yak out. There are song samples at the band's website.
"YAK were formed following the collapse of the cult band Acid Fantasy who toured in & around, but mostly in, Toot Hill village hall in Essex between '78 & '81. Although "the Fantasy" never made it big, never in fact gigging at all, it is interesting to note that following the demolition of the said village hall, a themed housing estate has now been constructed on the site - albeit on a different theme." They also rehearsed in a cottage which was also sadly demolished, maybe fate was trying to tell them something?
YAK went on until 1984 when they split for numerous and humorous reasons, although Martin continued to work on the material over the next 20 years, yes that's right 20 years, with the long term ambition to release this CD; some might say it must have been like watching grass grow. I think it is now time to tell you that this 20 year labour of love was actually inspired by bands such as "Yes" and more so "Camel", that's right, the mighty Andy Latimer & co. Considering the humble and short background of this band, this is a treasure of an album, albeit a short one, 32mins. From the opening theme it wears its influences on its sleeve. It consists of quiet reflective tracks of piano and symphonic sounds blending with melodic progressive rock. The similarities between it and Camel's "Snow Goose", "Mirage" and "Moon Madness" is quite striking with the "Yes" influences being particularly strong on the tracks "Leylines Of Yak" and parts of "Frustration".
Progressive rock at this point in time needs more music of this calibre as opposed to the over indulgent, pompous and tuneless meanderings that some progressive bands throw at you. Keep it structured is the secret; this is what is demonstrated here.
Martin Morgan and Co. are reforming this year and surely they have a promising future ahead of them if this is the direction they are going to pursue. If they hadn't disbanded 20 years ago, who knows what they may have achieved. As it is, they still could become a major fixture in the UK progressive rock scene if they stick together after the planned June reunion; if not then surely Martin Morgan could become a highly sought after instrumentalist. An album that would be very interesting to hear played by the reformed band. This mini album is highly recommended. 90%
YAK is Martin Morgan trying to kept the live concept of the 4 pieces band of the same name which been alive in the late 70's / beginning of the 80's. The band split in 1984, so 20 years later, and on a Kurzweil K2600x only and with some samplers. Maybe it's why the music sounds a bit like the electronic music for a good part of it, it's in fact a totally instrumental electronic production, but it's really a progressive-rock offshoot, with some fusion in it like CAMEL was. All the songs were mostly coming from the beginning of the 80's.
'I particularly like UK although hardly anyone else I know has heard of them! - (Messrs Eddie Jobson, Bill Bruford/Terri Bozzio, Alan Holdworth and John Wetton' say Martin himself. But to me the music looks like mostly to CAMEL, with the beautiful softness of CAMEL and a similar drumming especially hearable in 'Aragorn' & 'Yakrise'. And 'Leylines of YAK' which is more turn toward the works of Eddie Jobson (UK) like 'Frustration' is in the beginning, but this last one contain some likeness to GENESIS like in 'Migration' also in the beginning. I found also some likeness to Keith EMERSON in the beginning and at the end of 'Earthogrub' but the song is always turn toward a CAMEL /JOBSON offshoot. The last song, like the first one is, are both electronic / new-age influenced, and used by way of introduction / conclusion of the CD. I don't find any influenced from YES here as it is say elsewhere. It is so mostly influenced by CAMEL and Eddie Jobson from UK, but it's entirely made of electronic sounds. Great production and programming, a second CD is now in process, with the possibility of the band reunion. Great :-)
Dark Side Of The Duck is the project of Martin Morgan, the one time Yak keyboardist and archivist. In true progressive fashion, the band Yak never released any albums, never played live and split up in obscurity. The subtitle of this CD is "An Instrumental Album Of Concepts By Yak" and some of its eight tracks are indeed concepts, not fully developed songs. Martin has recreated the Yak concepts on his Kurzweil K2600x synthesizer, emulating a four piece band electronically. While it is unlikely that we will ever hear any examples of the original band, Mr. Morgan's efforts are very impressive and quite listenable.
This release gets high marks as far as musicianship and production values are concerned. With all the music generated by the digital brain of the Kurzweil keyboard and laid down direct to CD, there is nary a bit of noise or unwanted compression. Martin's bass and drum tracks are especially noteworthy, the drums in particular being about the best sounding percussion samples I have ever heard. With the exception of the tom-tom fills (which no digital drums can reproduce accurately) you would swear that a real drum kit was used on this release. I would be remiss not to mention Martin's keyboard work, which is top notch, his playing style similar to that of Camel's Peter Bardens. Many of the tracks included here remind me of the aforementioned Camel and some have a jamming, funky, jazzy feel that reminds me of the Pat Methany Group. "Yakrise" cannot escape comparison to Camel's "Lunar Sea," and the other tracks range from the lush, ethereal tones of "Aragorn" to the angular and biting "Earthogrub." Martin is a fine soloist and his often ripping lines are a pleasure to these ears. These tracks are all pure retro symphonic in style and substance, full of odd meter, driving, pulsing bass lines and loads of satisfying keyboards to top it all off. The CD is available through Martin's website, www.yaksongs.com.
Another great album That’s drawing my attention currently calls "Dark Side of the Duck" by YAK. I must really say that I have discovered a lot of delightful feelings on listening to it, seen that all their songs are topping. Moreover its musical direction fits into my personal taste in fact. Who’s YAK at last? In truth YAK sounds almost, or fully who knows, depending upon everyone’s slant of course, as a project of the British keyboardist Martin Morgan, who was once member of a real band called YAK, whose destiny didn't’t let them thrive, in what culminated in the band’s break-up, unfortunately. As I understand it, some material was then kept unreleased for over twenty years, that Mr. Morgan later decided to turn that old material still in its raw shape into somewhat worth being released opportunely. After working hard on his Kurzweil keyboards with a view to rescue that sleeping treasure, the then "Dark Side of the Duck" album could finally see the light of the day, on what happened straight last year, and became ever since one of my favorite Progressive Rock albums from the current days, an album that expresses sensibilities, and also reflects the good taste of his creator for accomplishing such a sublime work, and also he who sets himself to listening to it carefully in the peacefulness of his house. In a general way, all facts involving the accomplishment of this work really help change it all into a fair history, preceded of course, by Mr. Morgan’s idealism on making it all possible, even twenty years later. As suggested by the subtitle of the album itself "An Instrumental Album of Concepts by YAK", this album is a concept one in fact, that features eight top-notch songs over its length, whose listener will soon feel himself captivated by them due to their gracefulness, that sounds absolutely like an award to the ears whereas the songs have the power of emanating the essence of sweetness, even on the verge of making us behold this wicked world by its sunny side, and forget about its deficiencies for a few minutes, though. I’d further say the release of this album sounds otherwise like a real find, mostly when guessing this material might be well in the depth of the obscurity forever if not rescued one day by any member of YAK’S original line-up so far. After years at last, somebody thought wisely how pity it would be to leave quite a remarkable work behind without showing its effulgence to the world. Well, before concluding this review I would further like to say this work will surely please most of those who appreciate the legendary British band "Camel" whereas the keyboards work evoke a bit of the Peter Bardens’ feel, and according to my viewpoint, The "Snowgoose" Album would be definitively the source of inspiration for the accomplishment of this project overall. This album is highly recommendable!
Jessica Attene of Arlequins writes: (translation coming soon!)
Gli Yak nascono dalle ceneri degli Acid Fantasy, band attiva tra il 1978 ed il 1981 ma che in pratica non ha mai suonato dal vivo né stampato alcun vinile. Nel corso di tante vicissitudini e cambi di formazione, il polistrumentista Martin Morgan ha sempre cercato di tenere in piedi l'essenza della sua band, registrando, nell'arco di 20 anni di attività, tutte le idee musicali del gruppo, nella speranza di poterle un giorno ultimare e pubblicare. Quel giorno è arrivato e Martin ha finalmente dato un senso a tutto il materiale in giacenza nei suoi archivi e nella sua memoria. Nonostante si occupi da solo di far lavorare tutta la strumentazione a sua disposizione, il risultato è senz'altro ammirevole. Martin dimostra di avere le idee ben chiare su quanto si propone di ottenere, riesce a far valere le sue doti di sapiente compositore ed abile tastierista e, se proprio la musica non riesce a raggiungere il massimo potenziale auspicabile, questo è dovuto agli spazi angusti in cui il musicista è costretto a muoversi e non certo alla sua imperizia. Il materiale che dà vita a questo CD dalla buffa copertina e dal titolo non meno bizzarro si articola in 8 brevi tracce strumentali, costruite su temi musicali ben strutturati, brillanti nella loro costruzione e agevoli all'ascolto: basterà iniziare dalla prima traccia ed i 32 minuti totali scivoleranno via all'istante, come se si mandasse giù un vinello fresco e traditore. Le canzoni sono costruite fondamentalmente attorno alle tastiere con un esiguo scheletro costituito dalle percussioni elettroniche. Sia adocchiando la copertina, sia leggendo i titoli, in cui figura persino una traccia intitolata "Migration" e anche ascoltando la musica stessa l'associazione più immediata è con "The Snow Goose" dei Camel. In questo caso al posto dell'ochetta di neve troviamo fra i titoli un cigno e nell'immagine della copertina un'anatra. I Camel sono rievocati con tutte le limitazioni del caso: ovviamente manca tutto il lavoro di batteria, basso e chitarra che rendeva speciale il lavoro di Latimer. Tuttavia le tastiere hanno sicuramente dei connotati vagamente Canterburyani, seppure il loro sound sia in effetti poco vintage. Martin ha comunque cercato di valorizzare al meglio la sua proposta, arricchendo il suono con campionamenti ad hoc e cercando di sopperire alla mancanza di strumentazione con le sue rigogliose tastiere ed un preziosissimo pianoforte. Il risultato è a suo modo pregevole e per alcuni versi stupefacente: nel suo piccolo quest'opera si rivela elegante, snella e messa su con tanto buon gusto. Tracce come "Aragorn", dai suoni avvolgenti e Camel oriented o la graziosa e movimentata "Yakrise" non possono che emozionare l'ascoltatore. Insomma, il disco soffre certamente dei difetti propri delle one-man-bands ma ciononostante è comunque molto gradevole e senza dubbio meritevole di essere ascoltato.
Dark Side Of The Duck is the project of Yak a.k.a. Martin Morgan, The subtitle of this CD is "An Instrumental Album Of Concepts By Yak" that reminded me at first of Camels Snow Goose and still does in many ways. There are 8 songs or concepts present that are created by Yak by using a synthesizer to emulate a near perfect four piece band electronically. The bass and drum tracks are so close to the real thing, your ears are thinking there’s more than one person doing this.
Now I have to direct the attention to the drums since they are the “almost” part in the equation but it’s goes so unnoticed (except to the trained ear, which I don’t have) to me and I’m sure most listeners. Besides why sit there and nit-pick about the music, life’s too short. Just listen and enjoy the beauty that Yak creates.
One of the highlights of the musicianship here is the keyboards. They’re very similar to the styling of the late Pete Bardens. I guess that’s where the afore mentioned Snow Goose reference comes in. Also there’s a jazzy feel to some of the songs.
The music on this CD are all pure retro symphonic progressive rock and shouldn’t be over looked. It is one of the more wonderful new instrumental releases and I hope that Yak makes more Yakmusic for us all. If this peeks your interested, then the Dark Side of the Duck is available through Martin's website
Yak was originally a band that started playing in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. They consisted of drummer John Wynn, bass player Simon Snell, guitarist Robin Hodder and keyboard wiz Martin Morgan. The band mostly played jam sessions and gigs were basically non-existent. The band split up after every member moved to a different part of England. Martin Morgan felt it would be a shame not to continue the work they had already begun and so he revived the project more than twenty years later. They had been working on certain tunes as a band, so Morgan thought he’d put those melodies to use. For this project, he decided to play on his own, without the addition of the rest of the past band members.
The album opens with a dark and ominous opening, slightly reminiscent of vintage Tangerine Dream or Vangelis (the track “Himalaya” comes to mind). It’s a good way to kick off the album. I was expecting a really dark and atmospheric album after I had heard this track. The second track brings about one of the progressive rock clichés – the song title. Just about every critic who has absolutely no clue about progressive rock thinks that the lyrics in this style are mainly about dragons and wizards and Tolkien. The track has a nice piano opening and it gets a bit livelier after the drums kick in. There are only a couple of melodies used here with lots of variations and soloing on top.
“Leylines of Yak” is a better structured song with some complex melodies. However, the annoying programmed drums and lame synthesiser sounds make it a bit worse than it deserves to be. The first part of “Yakrise” is slow with a basic piano melody and synthesiser on top. The second part of the song is faster and it includes some exceptional solos that remind of Peter Bardens (Camel). Again, some lame effects are used to tarnish an otherwise fine piece of music. “Frustration” starts off where the previous song finished (wind sounds). It is quite a complex piece but again the frustrating synthesiser sounds tarnish it quite a bit. The piano at the end reminded me of Tony Banks’ A Curious Feeling.
The next song is “Migration”. The title isn’t the only thing in common with Camel, the beginning reminds of classic Bardens yet again. I could also sense some Keith Emerson influences. “Earthogrub” is a song that begins with some nice Emerson-like piano and when the synthesiser joins in you can’t help but wonder if Rick Wakeman was also an influence. The album finishes pretty much like it started – with a nice mellow song on piano.
It is obvious that Martin Morgan tried to recapture that 1970s feel on this record. However, his inclusion of those lame 80s sounding keyboards made it a worse record. Sometimes I felt as if I was playing one of those 80s computer games with the cheesy music playing in the background. This is very unfortunate since the song-writing is very solid. Morgan shows a lot of potential, however the execution leaves a lot to be desired. If he had added real drums and bass, it would have made a world of difference. There’s no doubt that he is a talented man capable of writing some very sophisticated and complex material, I only wish he had waited one more year so that his band mates could have joined him. The record would have been much better. As it is, it’s only a ‘what could have been’ album.