I don't know what to think of Jimi Tenor. This thin Finnish man has a view on music that ought to turn out excellent: he's not afraid of blending jazz, vintage synthesizers, dramatic soundtrack atmospheres, orchestral manoeuvres and hard electronics. Still, he often comes across as a castrated Foetus or a kindergarten version of Barry Adamson, in short like someone who can't live up to his ambitions. And I think that has to do with Tenor's attempts at being a soul singer. Because when he lets such ambitions go, the result is often fabulous. For instance on the 1997 "Sugardaddy" single, a fuzzy, stompy clash between Soft Cell and Suicide's "Ghost Rider", that's still the best synthpop song I've heard for ages.
This is also noticeable on Tenor's new album "Out of Nowhere". Here, he's hired a 60-piece Polish orchestra. And when he lets them loose on soundtracky excursions like the opening title track and "Night in Loimaa", the result is fabulously stunning. Not to mention "Blood on Borscht", as overtly dramatic as a trip down Golgotha, but amazing in its pairing of whiplash orchestration and metal guitars. Metallica would cry blood if they heard that a skinny boy from Finland could make this combination sound so brute.
But then it comes again: Tenor's futile takes on blackness. He tries to be Curtis Mayfield, and I could probably deal with that if he kept the music standards up, but his attempts on "soul" are backed by music that's so soft it borders on easy listening, and that itches like bugpowder on me. To be fair, "Hypnotic Drugstore" is a successful take on funk, accompanied by flutes. But then again, the closing track almost wrecks the whole album. In "Call of the Wild" (just the title...), Tenor is wailing in the background while his girlfriend Nicole Willis takes the lead over a horrible soul pastiche, that reaches its lowest point in a saxophone solo courtesy of Tenor. Awful.