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Jimi Tenor

Best described as techno's first cabaret star, Finland native Jimi Tenor is what you might imagine Detroit's answer to a cheesy lounge artist to be. Coming off as a kind of lo-fi Prince cross-bred with Maurizio, Atom Heart, and perhaps Jean-Jacques Perrey, Tenor's recordings are released through Sahko/Puu (home to most of the scant Finnish techno scene); despite the fact that they stick out of the label roster like a sore thumb, they have attracted something of a devoted cult following, mainly among the idm/electronica crowds. Unlike most electronica artists, however, who routinely namecheck Kraftwerk, Juan Atkins, and Carl Craig as influences, Tenor leans more toward names like Barry White, Isaac Hayes, and '70s B-movie and blaxploitation soundtracks. Classically trained, Tenor gained the attention of influential Sheffield label Warp after releasing the full-length Europa in 1996, leading to a recording deal and reissue plans for some of Tenor's Sakho releases. Warp featured the previously unavailable Tenor cut "Downtown" on their Blechsdottir label comp, and released the 7-inch/CD-single "Can't Stay with You Baby" a few months later, with two additional singles appearing in early 1997. Prior to his solo work, Tenor fronted Jimi Tenor and His Shamans, who starting in 1988 released several albums on the Poko, Euros, and Bad Vugum labels (including Total Capacity of 216, 5 Litres, Diktafon, and Fear of a Black Jesus, which included 3-D sleeve and glasses). Despite the studied imperfection of his recordings (Tenor chides modern electronic music for sounding lifelessly exacting), he spent 12 years studying piano, flute, and saxophone at a Finnish music institute. After dissolving the Shamens in the late '80s, Tenor moved to New York, where he worked as a tourist photographer at the Empire State Building. He finally hooked up with Sahko after receiving a copy of a solo recording by Mika Vainio (of Panasonic and O). Impressed with the label's openness to experimentalism (Sahko had previously been known as something of the muso's minimalist techno label), Tenor sent along some tapes and landed a recording contract, releasing his debut, Sahkomies, in 1994. While in New York he also recorded with Khan/4E's Can Oral (under the name Bizz O.D.), releasing the "Traffic" single on Ozon in 1995. Tenor returned to Finland in 1995 to film a documentary of Sahko (funded, oddly enough, by a government grant), and has remained there since, releasing Europa in 1996 and securing licensing and recording arrangements with Warp. The full-length Intervision was released in 1997, followed two years later by Organism. After the release of Out of Nowhere in 2000, Tenor and Sahko parted ways with Warp. His sixth full-length, Utopian Dream, still received import distribution. Sean Cooper

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