280: Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance

Musicology (2004)
Pomp and circumstance: a phrase coined by Shakespeare to mean celebratory ceremony and fuss, but there’s little of that on show here. The very opposite in fact. The music underpinning Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance is mean and sparse – a thin braid made up of hip-hop drums, the lead synth-line from Sex, and the funkiest guitar-licks this side of the Black album. And space. A whole lot of space. This bare-bones beat focuses your attention on the storyline – reminiscent of Under the Cherry Moon – of a rich cougar and a young gigolo using each other for their own shallow ends. A stiletto-sharp tale of two characters “making”, to borrow another phrase from Othello, “the beast with two backs” as a loveless transaction. Murky with the mud of materialism, there’s no glory here, save for that found in Prince’s delivery. His exquisitely acerbic vocals show that in his hands even the grimiest canvas can sparkle with invisible fire.