If there’s enough temporal distance between your music and that music’s source influence, you may be mistaken for an original. Better yet, if you strip that influence to its basics, you can be labeled a purist. Sometimes this strategy backfires, and you get people like Tiny Tim, a minimalist throwback whose success was based on his appeal as a grotesque. Until he died a few years ago, however, Tiny Tim always thought of himself as a serious musician.
Jimi Tenor isn’t grotesque, but most people find him eccentric. And yet he, too, is resolutely serious about the lounge music he makes. A classically trained musician (piano and flute), Tenor followed the brief, late-’80s European underground success of his dance band, Jimi and the Shamans, with an extended sojourn in New York City, where he was introduced to minimalist techno. Upon returning to his native Finland in 1995, he started making records for local label Sahko and then Warp, the influential U.K. electronica imprint. But rather than build on the experimentalism that first drew him to electronic music, he prettied it up with ’70s soul flourishes and falsetto vocals, becoming to Prince what Tiny Tim was to Rudy Vallee.
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