Recording under the moniker Arlekin, Ukrainian multi-instrumentalist Igor Sydorenko is the mastermind behind "Disguise Serenades", an impressive 2014 neo-progressive collection of tunes that evoke the very early days of Fish era Marillion. The tracks have the same raw edge as the early Marillion singles like "Chelsea Monday", "Three Boats Down From The Candy", "Market Square Heroes", "Forgotten Sons", "Garden Party" and "Grendel".
And if the musical style and vocal presentation isn't enough to convince you of Sydorenko's affinity for early Marillion than the title and subject matter of his epic track "Dance Of The Jester" should leave little doubt.
Igor Sydorenko is a highly respected musician from the Kyiv-based Ukrainian and has fronted the psychedelic rock trio Stoned Jesus as well as the post-rock quartet Krobak. But his real love is for the neo-prog pioneers of the 80s' prompting him to compose several demo tracks which he presented to friends and fans on MySpace in 2008. Five years later he recorded the tracks in a professional studio giving birth to Arlekin and the debut album "Disguise Serenades".
His vocals are somewhat inconsistent - great at times as he mimics the power and passion in the voice of the Scotsman he's trying to emulate, while other times he has the strained and unpleasant angst of someone like Roger Waters. The track "Romance" is the best example of this, making it my least favorite track on the album.
On the other hand stand-out tracks include "The Lost Path" which has a Pink Floyd vibe and some inspired Gilmoresque guitarwork from Sydorenko, with vocals more reminiscent of Geoff Mann of Twelfth Night.
"Dance Of The Jester" which as the title implies might well have been an unreleased track from Marillion during their "Script For A Jester's Tear" recording sessions. At the 6 minute mark Sydorenko emulates Fish to perfection. You'll swear it's Fish-era Marillion. Great tune!
For his 15 minute prog/rock epic "In This Puzzled Roundabout" Sydorenko seemingly tosses in every influence which has inspired him throughout his lifetime - and possibly a few unintended - everything from Ozzy fronted Black Sabbath heavy metal mayhem, to Genesis, psychedelic Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, as well as a stable of neo-prog artist like Marillion, IQ, Arena, and Pendragon.
Sydorenko's vocal limitations sadly come into play at the conclusion of "In This Puzzled Roundabout" as the track builds to a crescendo. His vocals don't match Sydorenko's instrumental prowess. A more accomplished vocalist could have elevated this track to something special. The stirring climax of "In This Puzzled Roundabout" brings to mind those ethereal IQ epic tracks with vocalist Peter Nichols, in which the heavens rain down upon the listener, but Sydorenko's wavering delivery detracts from what might otherwise have been a magical musical moment. But it's still a great track. A real highlight of the album. And the occasional uneven vocals shouldn't keep you from adding this to your collection. The more I listen to it the better I like it. Highly recommended to fans of neo-progressive rock.
Arlekin is guilty of that annoying time waster ... the hidden track.
Still can't figure out the mindset which prompts a musician to hide ten minutes of additional music after six minutes of dead air. After the conclusion of the four minute track "Old Father East", at the 10 minute mark, we are treated to a ten minute alternate version of "Dance Of The Jester".
Glad I got an opportunity to hear it, but I sure won't listen to again if I have to sit through six minutes of silence to hear it again.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on Novemeber 16th, 2014