Jef Elise Barbara (formerly Jef Barbara) will release a new 7” EP Sexe Machin / Sex Machine on May 13, 2016 through Fixture Records. Leaving behind the hyper-controlled prog rock studio productions of their previous effort, Sexe Machin / Sex Machine marks the return of Jef on their own terms with a bold two-song offering that rings with genre trespassing experimentation and newfound freedom. Jef chose to record these latest songs at Montreal’s all-analog Bottle Garden studio, run by Peter Woodford and Caitlin Loney of Freelove Fenner, having previously collaborated with them on “Technic is Fun” for Soft To The Touch.
A lover of the odd, dark, and overlooked elements in pop music, Jef finds inspiration in unexpected sources, like off-the-radar vocalists Su Tissue, Kashif, Francis Bebey, and obscure new wave singer Rexy, whose lost hit “A Perfect Day” Jef recently covered for Fixture Records’ 2015 label compilation, Fixture Records 4.
Sexe Machin / Sex Machine is an original song written and composed by Jef and recorded in transcontinental collaboration with reclusive Toulouse-based bedroom producer Pieuvre. Receiving guitar and synth parts over email, Jef built the rest of the arrangement at the Bottle Garden, adding vocals and organ to Pieuvre’s bed tracks, before the final piece was mixed to tape by Freelove Fenner.
The song combines the silky sensuality of Minnie Riperton’s evocative lyricism with the steady bouncing bass of disco-funk groups like Chic and pioneering Chicago house producer-singer Jamie Principle. Jef’s French/English wordplay turns the soulful track into a bilingual brush-off anthem in the style of 90s pop and r&b divas calling out a no-good guy. Layered synths and keyboards modulate the song’s multi-tonal moments, from the steadily climbing disco strings building high theatrics, to the phased doubles match that delivers the hook, to the tinkly flourishes that mimic the screened phone calls of the dud who won’t take a hint.
For the b-side, Jef had Freelove Fenner sit in as backing band to reinterpret soft-pop outsider Michael Angelo’s 1978 “Sorcerer’s Delight”, a track that was recently rediscovered through reissues on Light in the Attic and Mexican Summer. Jef Elise Barbara version, co-produced by Freelove Fenner, transforms it into an 80s ballad with New Romantic church organ, balletic keyboard trills, and Jef’s signature buttery croon.