01 - All For Love
02 - Black in Truth
03 - Honesty
04 - Verb
05 - up to you
06 - FRAGILE LOVE...spend a night with you
07 - Cassandra
Baroque is an awesome, terrifying game from the geniuses at Sting, makers of Treasure Hunter G, Riviera, and Yggdra Union. You probably missed the game, seeing as it's an older, obscure first-person RPG, released only in Japan on the Saturn and later the PSX. But what a fine, haunting game it is.
Elsewhere on this site, you can find a review to the unique and incredible soundtrack to the game. I own that CD myself, and quite love its melancholy sound, but, after seeing an old commercial for the game itself, I realized there was more Baroque music out there. The TV ads for the game (still downloadable on Sting's website) feature a song performed by a group called Baroque Mode, but that song is not on the OST. After doing some light investigating, I found that the song in question, "Truth in Black," was not only released as a single, but was part of an album released by Baroque Mode titled "Read My Lips." Naturally, I had to pick it up.
The album is an odd little thing - there are only seven tracks, and one of them is about 30 seconds long. Baroque Mode themselves are also quite a strange phenomenon - I have the feeling that the group was created from some sort of talent show or something, and used for promoting the game while giving them a shot at a career, much like Rie Sugimoto winning Falcom's "Miss Lilia" contest/record deal in the early 90s.
Whatever the case is, the CD is pretty good, if you like R&B style music - even just a little bit. Though the rhythms are fairly simple, the writing kinda cheesy and the vocals a bit amateurish, the album as a whole is better than the sum of it's parts and has a catchy sound that holds up after many listens. This is the kind of music that, at least for me, sounded 'meh' at first, only to slowly grow on me.
"All For Love" opens the album, with some English speech by one of the girls over a piano, till about 40 seconds in when the beat kicks in. It's pretty light compared to the other songs, with an upbeat feel. "Black in Truth" is the reason I bought this CD, since it's the song linked to Baroque. The beat is better, thicker, and darker, as is the whole song. This is easily the best song on the disc; it's obvious why Sting used this one for the game. I like the distorted synth lead in the background, and the record hiss is a nice, if slightly corny, touch.
"Honesty" has a nice, clean, tight drum pattern, ruined by annoying voice clips and samples pasted over it. Thankfully, they mostly go away once the actual singing begins, being replaced by a really sweet piano groove about 50 seconds in. Aside from the voice bits, the background is great, with sweeping synths and a thick, fat bass line. "Verb" is that 30 second track. It sounds a lot more like something from the game itself than the rest of the music on here. The song begins sounding really cool...and then fades out. NANI?! Too bad.
"up to you" has a terrible chorus singer in the backround singing, "ooooh, feel your looove," and I really don't like it. It's just wrong. Once she's gone, what's left is a solid lead singer, and more excellent production skills, including some nice organ and guitar licks. Perhaps I'm overrating it, but this song reminds me a bit of TalesWeaver's refreshing mix of 2step, R&B, house and techno, so that's a good thing (and if it were from TalesWeaver, it would have been spelled, 'UP 2 U.' Hehe...ermm...*cough*).
"FRAGILE LOVE...spend a night with you" also starts out incredibly annoying, with some great lackluster singing, but this time through a distortion filter. Oooh, tricky. Not. How about CHEESY!!! I really don't know why that grating voice is there, it's not even a part of the melody proper, nor is it even really on tempo or even in the same time signature. They could have put in William Hung's ever famous Ricky Martin stint, and it would have made as much sense. Sounds like someone was having too much fun in Cubase. But the rest of the song fares much better, and I love the acoustic guitar.
Closing up, "Cassandra" is pretty much more of the same, which isn't really a bad thing, but it's kind of weak compared to the others. The violin is interesting, though.
The album is still pretty easy to find, but it's not cheap. It runs about $20-30 from Amazon Japan, CD Japan and HMV. Unlike Falcom's fairly successful and enjoyable effort with Rie, this seems to be Baroque Mode's only full album, so they must not have not taken off, or this was all they had planned.
All told, it's a nice album, and a cool oddity to check out. For the enthusiast that wants the oddest and most unknown releases, this is for you. Most other fans will probably want to hold off unless you see it on the cheap somewhere, or just really love this style of music. Good luck!
Reviewed by: Connary