Jimi Tenor Beyond the Stars

Jimi Tenor Beyond the Stars
He may have just moved back to his hometown of Lahti, Finland after years of global living, but Jimi Tenor is far from his days of the mid-’80s making noisecore with a bunch of local friends. His latest, which is the follow-up to his 2002 genre-spanning milestone, Higher Planes, is a gleeful horn-and-choral studded romp in ’70s era jazz and the desire to resurrect awe towards space. With majestic and approachable horn sections alongside a charmingly hearty co-ed choir, Tenor has painstakingly crafted an album that is both musically reflective and relevant today. His darling (and nearly kitsch) fascination with space themes is illustrated through song titles, lyrics, recording treatments and effects ("Take Off,” "Miracles”). Tenor disallows the space theme to become juvenile by basing his complex and mature compositions in orchestral-sounding instrumentals and sturdy lyrics. Attention to the recording process is as integral as the songs themselves; it comes through and blankets the amazing musicianship of the Berlin-based, Afrobeat band, Rhythm Taxi, and the Finnish choir Adventur, with a sense of timelessness.

After Higher Planes, what were you aiming to accomplish with Beyond the Stars? The way I made it was very similar. In Higher Planes I was totally into fusion: Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Chick Corea. After that album I wanted to go a bit freer, a lot more improvised, but I only managed to do one of that kind of track ["Asteroid Belt”]. I felt like to listen to only free would be a little bit tedious.

You work with a band and choir on the album. How is it being both the band leader and the composer? Sometimes I find it a bit tedious to always be there. A couple of years ago I was working much more with sequencers and synths. It’s super easy because you don’t have to be a band leader to anybody. But this is completely new, where you have to be a band leader and go "Now! 1, 2, 3, 4!” and if you play it wrong, it has to be redone.

What was it like for you working with groups that already had an identity like Rhythm Taxi and the Adventur choir? It was interesting and difficult with the Rhythm Taxi guys. We hadn’t really met that many times, and I didn’t know exactly what their view to my music would be, I was a bit actually nervous. And at all my gigs now, they are the rhythm group. They’re really good and easy going guys. The thing about the Finnish choir is the opposite of a gospel choir. They sing totally without a vibrato and this very, almost fluid type of song. They sing very difficult stuff and sometimes I write pretty difficult harmonies because I know they can sing because they’re used to doing modern music. (Kitty Yo)