The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience (also known as JPS Experience and JPSE), produced a stream of quirky guitar driven dream-pop for over a decade after forming in 1985. The Flying Nun regulars had both local and international success during that time with US indie label Communion releasing a version of their 1987 Love Songs album to critical acclaim. After the band broke up in 1995, David Mulcahy went on to form Superette, and later Eskimo (or Kimo), while David Yetton recorded two albums with Stereo Bus and one solo album.
Credited to a band with the shortened name The JPS Experience (possibly at the request of Jean Paul Sartre’s estate), the ‘Breathe’ EP prefigured the Christchurch band’s third album — their swansong — and yielded their highest chart placing. Produced by Strawpeople’s Mark Tierney, and hailed by US alternative music bible Trouser Press as “glamorous ennui”, it defines the majestic, woozy pop that was increasingly becoming their forte. Director Matt Palmer’s video never strays from the band — with fluid camerawork framing them in fire, ice and shimmering reflections.
Swirling smoke, effervescence, distorted angles and overlaid band members emphasise the psychedelic aspects of this track (from JPSE's final album) in this Jonathan Ogilvie-directed clip. Layered guitars and structured drumming push this polished pop song forward. Bassist Dave Yetton pulls out the stops to provide a yearning, confessional lyric.
Flying Nun supremo Roger Shepherd says this 1991 single release saw the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience further develop its sound and push it to a poppier place. And the sweeping melody of the chorus supports that. Largely shot in a derelict pub in central Auckland (that was subsequently demolished to make way for a high rise building), the video uses a constantly moving camera and primary colours to back up the lush sound. By now the band had shortened its name to JPS Experience and added keyboard player Russell Baillie.
The opening track from the second Jean-Paul Sartre Experience album indicates a significant change in tone for the band — more layered and expansive, and less angular than some of their earlier recordings. The video was directed and edited by John Chrisstoffels, who shot the stained glass windows and tile mosaics in Christchurch's Anglican Cathedral. JPSE vocalist and bass player Dave Yetton created the pulsing and spiraling video feedback effects. The band appears only fleetingly — in individual close-ups, filmed off a television screen by Chrisstoffels.
The set has a back-drop curtain made out of milk bottle top foil; the band are wearing plastic rubbish sacks fashioned into tunics, and have painted faces. The props include a disco mirror ball, a toilet seat sculpture, a giant bug, and umbrellas. It's all slightly off-beam, but the band's performance is deadpan sweet. There’s the requisite Flying Nun film scratching, and some literal-but-amusing image and lyric matching. It all combines to make a DIY delight, an effortless two decades before Flight of the Conchords or Mighty Boosh.