Prince 3121

3121 is 1122 years away from 1999 — not just numerically, but as a representation of the chasm between Prince’s glory days and the floundering "Artist Formerly Known as Genius.” Maybe he picked that date so he’d never have to live long enough to have another out-of-date New Year’s anthem, or maybe he thought that by resurrecting some of his old squiggly synths he was somehow invoking the future. It’s no surprise for any Prince-spotter that fully half of this record is comprised of insipid slow jams that exist only to "out-cheeze” R. Kelly. As for the party tracks, they’re split between the Las Vegas showbiz jams that have characterised much of Prince’s last decade, and a welcome, if fleeting, throwback to his studio hermit days of Sign O’ The Times and The Black Album on the dark funk of the title track, "Black Sweat” and "Love” — all of which would also sound right at home on a DFA compilation. Sometimes the two poles meet, as on "Lolita,” where an early ’90s trance keyboard patch slides incongruously over a trad funk groove. This might be enough to excite some long-suffering fans, but everyone else is advised to save your money for the concert tickets. (Fonal)