Jimi Tenor

Utopian Dream

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After losing his major-label contract with Matador, Jimi Tenor returned not only to his old label (Sähkö Recordings), but also to the basement-level productions and bizarre soul of his early records. The opener (and title track) certainly doesn't sound like a utopian dream though -- the deep vocals and dark electro chords sound more like a Drexciya record than Finland's favorite Prince imitator. The highlights "Moonfolks" and "Gentle Afternoon" are faux-naïve vignettes produced with the cheap drum machine on autopilot and Tenor working it out, either on his primitive keyboards or with his tremulous falsetto (sometimes at the same time!). Though a few tracks have the lunar lounge-act finesse that made 1997's Intervision such a breakout record, Utopian Dream is a sprawling mess, an attempt to re-create the flip side of Sly Stone's tossed-off classic There's a Riot Goin' On, but lacking even that record's pittance of organization. Summing it all up is "Neumatico Rojo," a half-hearted attempt at remaking an older, better track. Tenor gets plenty of points for individuality and his apparent refusal to conform to "normal" attitudes of music-making, but the result is a dark record that reveals few of its secrets and confuses more than it excites.

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