many moons ago i was introduced to the music of jimi tenor, the lounge lethario of finland. the album, seemingly presented on a gold lame platter, was ‘sahkomies’ and featured tracks that once heard, could never be forgotten. ‘travellin dem spaceways’ was one such song – a future jazz excursion into hidden galaxies that fired hitherto unknown triggers lurking withing the depths of the imagination. the other was the bright lounge techno of ‘take me baby’ – a track that wore a hard, poker face, complimented with a pair of bright orange knickers in the downstairs department.
tenor was making tech-lounge and space jazz at a time shortly prior to an explosion of clubs playing ‘ironic lounge music’. my problem with the latter wasn’t that i failed to see the inherent humour, it was simply that most of the music being made or being played was shockingly bad. tenor was therefore something of a breath of clean, scandanavian air – whilst adorning himself with the usual trappings of lounge iconography, he still made exceptionally good music and forged most of his albums in a cauldron of dark humour.
given his gift for steering his sofa on the right side of the credibility, it was somewhat unsurprising that warp records signed him for three albums in the mid-late 90s. since then, tenor has been weaving between electro jazz and funk and projects such as the impostor orchestra – an orchestral album that married an imaginary soundtrack with a collection of jingles for an interplanetary space station.
this year, tenor has dropped two albums with an african theme: ‘joystone’, a collaboration with west african trio kabu kabu, and ‘live in berlin’, a live, afrobeat rendering of his back catalogue, accompanied by rhythm taxi – former members of fela kuti’s band, ripped from the diaspora. recorded during the 2004 ‘beyond the stars’ tour, the results of this second release are typically tenor – a playful fusion of unlikely genres, guaranteed to induce involuntary movement in all the right places.
‘live in berlin’ is released today as a digital download from germany’s kitty-yo – also home to tenor’s previous releases ‘beyond the stars’ and ‘higher planes’. ‘joystone’ is released next week by sahko, licenced outside mainland europe to ubiquity. view the wonderfully odd ‘tenor in the jungle’ video clip below: