Yak, 21/5/16 The Bullingdon, Oxford
Over the past year or two the name Yak seem to have surfaced and disappeared a number of times and one began to wonder what and where Yak actually were. With the odd single here and EP there, Yak, up until now, have been an illusive and erratic creature that lives very much on the peripheries, dipping its toe in and out of the watering hole but never fully submerging. However with their first full length album Alas Salvation released earlier this month which has had an enthusiastic reception from critiques, it’s fair to assume that at last Yak have well and truly landed, and in some style. It would be reductive to even attempt to sum up their style in pigeonhole terms with Yak incorporating a plethora of influences and genres in a most refreshing and revitalising manner and really bring the noise and chaos back to rock music which has been sadly lacking in recent years.
There’s certainly a real intelligence to the work of Yak, at times frantic and frenzied, their music is not afraid to deviate from the point and the array of avenues and alleyways they drag their audience down is quite breathtaking. A song which begins with a slow, ballad-esque ethos can become distorted and dischordant in the blink of an eye and for that, Yak are one of, if not the most, exciting and refreshing live act around at this moment in time. Oliver Burslem is mesmerising to watch, a natural and enigmatic performer as well as outstanding guitarist and vocalist and his antics, never appearing contrived or egocentric, highlight just how involved and connected he is with his music.
Highlights of the evening include Victorious, a song which has the whole Yak repertoire in three minutes, obscure, abrasive and totally unprepared to follow any preconceptions of what an album opener should sound like. And that in a nutshell is what is so pleasing about Yak, they have made an album and create a live sound which doesn’t pander to a market, isn’t based solely around choruses and pretty much does whatever the hell it wants. They appear to be untouched by the business minded tentacles of the industry, that would have us all listening to candy floss guff, and as a result have created some genuinely pioneering music. The album Alas Salvation is truly a masterpiece and their live performance merely accentuates the incredible talent and originality that Yak have in their locker. Salvation indeed, and not before time.