Mike Tenay – Jacuzzi
Recommendation: ✂ (“Rollerbabe”, “Swimming with Dolphins”)
Born on 1 March 1955, Michael William Tenay is a former wrestling announcer who worked with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) throughout the nineties and the noughties. Known as “The Professor” for his “encyclopedic” knowledge of wrestling, Tenay ran a year-long podcast called Professor Vegas through CBS Radio from 2015 to 2016 that discussed sports betting information, drawing from his experience as a bookie. He’s also a member of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, despite his current status of retirement from the professional wrestling business.
You’re not being bamboozled. Mike Tenay really is all those things. This Mike Tenay, however, is an impersonation of the wrestling great-man that utilizes the Tenay persona in a surreal sort of nostalgia, producing music in the styles of synthwave and future funk.1 Jacuzzi is the first album from Mike Tenay, released in 2014 on the Dream Catalogue label run by HKE.2 It consists of ten future funk tracks that are similar to contemporaries マクロスMACROSS 82-99 and YUNG BAE, both of whom released likeminded works that year. However – unlike those two artists, Mike Tenay’s works are a bit more downtempo, focusing less on the high-speed house/funk that characterized releases such as A Million Miles Away and more on sweaty mid-tempo grooves that would not be out of place in a downtown Miami club in the late-80s.3 The most notable deviation from contemporary future funk by Mike Tenay is the usage of additional sound effects such as water droplets and seagulls. Jacuzzi also features markedly less usage of EQ and gated reverb so as to make the melodies stand out more than percussion, which was relatively uncommon within the future funk genre. Samples are pitch-/tempo-shifted, and they frequently utilize Western media sources as well – such as on “Flow Money” and “Rollerbabe”.
As with most future funk from around this era, Jacuzzi is heavily based on sampled material, primarily funk (obviously) and R&B music with additional electronic effects. Many of these additions are relatively simple remix techniques, such as screw, phaser, and autotune. As with ＮＥＷ ＶＩＳＵＡＬＳ by bl00dwave, the simplicity is endearing and naive; “naive” is not used pejoratively here, but in the sense of wide-eyed freshness. Despite the creepiness of the cover – on which Mike Tenay looks like the G-Man from Half-Life 2 – Jacuzzi is a light-hearted affair.
Jacuzzi‘s strongest tracks are the ones on which the focus is placed on the production’s efficacy of recontextualization rather than the pleasantness of the samples themselves – much like its parent genre of vaporwave. There are several tracks (e.g. “Top Squeeze” and “Flow Money”) where the samples stand out more than Tenay, but when Jacuzzi is successful, it has damn strong swagger (e.g. “Rollerbabe”, “Swimming with Dolphins”). Hit those cuts for solid examples of future funk rhythm and groove.
1. Jacuzzi Love – (2:54)
2. Rollerbabe – (3:28)
3. Miami Beach – (4:59)
4. Slow and Easy – (4:49)
5. Top Squeeze – (3:24)
6. Pink Flamingo – (3:19)
7. Swimming with Dolphins – (3;26)
8. Flow Money – (2:50)
9. Bubble Butt – (3:19)
10. So Many Girls – (3:31)
1It remains to be seen if the real Tenay is aware of his imitator. There are several threads on wrestling forums where people have found Jacuzzi and are having a good laugh.
2–SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO LIKE THEIR ARTISTS PSEUDONYMOUS– (HKE is the man behind Tenay, along with many of the early pseudonymous Dream Catalogue artists such as AIR Japan and DARKPYRAMID.)
3Just make sure you look out for any dudes in rooster masks.