Jimi Tenor may not be saddled with an arkestra, but he and Sun Ra have bought the same one-way ticket into space. The bespectacled underground Finn’s cult popularity multiplied with his mid-’90s jump to Warp and the release of Intervision. But Tenor has been carving his signature into sound since the late ’80s with Jimi Tenor and his Shamans, creating funky acid-ambience (without the actual acid), making low-budget films, acting as photographer and not quite committing himself to physical residence somewhere between Finland, Berlin, New York and now Barcelona.
Tenor is proud of his many hats, and it is precisely that which inevitably caused a division between him and Warp, citing on his Web site that “they thought I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be mainstream or underground.” Even he concedes that this is indeed the case, and demonstrates it more clearly than ever with his return to the label that released his first solo album in 1994, Säkhö.
Utopian Dream becomes a mishmash of identities. At times it is reminiscent of what could be considered his most accessible album to date, 1999’s Organism, embracing the pop aesthetic with “Moon Folk” and creating a vision of a lounge-induced Ian Curtis with “Natural Cosmic Relief.” It is throughout much of the remainder of the recording that Tenor visits other planes, whether it’s a tripped-out rehashing of a song or two from previous releases or interior sound design for what could be the dance lounge of the Discovery, the spaceship featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
And that’s exactly what we want from Tenor. While others are concerned with moving product, he’s concerned with moving freely through states of reality in hopes of achieving the final fiction. OK, so he’s not Sun Ra, but in a world so fixated on the facts, the myth is half the battle.
E-mail Liz Copeland at [email protected].