MARK FRANCOMBE Musician, Filmmaker, Game-designer & Kipple-monger

A little hungry:The Caution Curves

Lets cut to the chase?

This may take some time… last thing they did (The Caution Curves CD) was really a surprise, of the cup of tea brought to you in bed variety, nice, thoughtful, warm and sweet.

But now I know what to expect… so I shall furrow my brow deeply in a serious music reviewer frown, grit my jaded teeth, prepare to be disapointed and insert the disk.


Hmm… it starts as I have expected, which is a little sad. a squeaky sax, some hesitant drumming and some hysterical forced laughing. It’s all a bit too much like a parody of free improv, we’re oh so fucking weird and crazed, it makes me press skip a few times to see if its all like this… and it is…


OK, lets just dive in, and give it a real listen…

Now which one is doing the singing? Let me see.. Tristana Fiscella probably.. OK well she has a bit of a concept for each track… its a new vocal thing (1st track laughing, 2nd track “Uh ha Ah ha Uh ha” a gym instructor on a later track!) combined with a few lines of random verse/messages/maths that get played around with…

I’m not sure, Im really just not sure…

Track 3 Under starts to change my mind… a arppegiating wash of tones is accompanied by rattling jazzy percussion, and Im struck by the really odd production that they manage to achieve – very well recorded, close, personal almost and at the same time cheap and lo fi. I AM THERE… in that room, somewhere in the middle.

I have made hundreds of hours of recordings using dummy head/binaural techniques, and this CD gives me some of that feeling.

By about the fifth track I am relaxed, and with almost all the Machiavellian evil reviewer in me gone, having enjoyed the smoke filled sixties coffee house of the previous track, I wallow in washing up liquidity and somewhat foolish chokings on spiky objects and hidden references to their earlier cd, which is always nice.

Someone, probably Hilde, brings me an unexpected cup of tea, with honey, and the sound of my teaspoon merges with the percussion, I jam along.

In the course of the next thirty minutes I follow the fat thread of this music that wriggles like a long red worm as it squirms down tunnels, through forests, along motorways, into cold basements filled with slightly damp carpets and woodlice, and out under leafy trees with picnics and into slow stagnant rivers where music is muted and wobbley and slightly green.

A juicy worm it is indeed as it hangs there, and as i am a little hungry…

I take a bite…

Yet again I am hooked…

I am speechless, how could I have been so wrong? I listen again to the start of this CD, and yes I WAS wrong, it is just pure brilliance! Crazed, unforgiving, foolish even, but brilliant. I must know more… I must pose for them some questions, that, even though I know it to be impossible, may get to the point by some mystical route…

I shall construct a series of devilishliy cunning questions, where one may be deceptively simple and straightforward, but the next will throw them off and they will have to use all their faculties and wits to answer intelligently, I shall confuse them and suddenly I will throw a curveball of a question and they shall blurt out the truth, without a care for their own personal safety… Ha ha, now where is my quill?


Interview conducted via e-mail with band.

No editting has been made, apart from the removal of one question about sex for the sake of public decency, a reference to a celebrity for reasons of libel, two by the editor because he just didn’t like them and one fawning beg for approval by the author, removed for the sake of embarrasment.

Improv is obviously your main thing.. how much is worked out before hand, electronics/laptop etc?

Amanda: There is actually a fair amount that is worked out ahead of time, with lots of playing with the main themes as we go. A few of the pieces are much more improvised that others, but they all build on work we have done playing together over the previous months.
Ben: We have songs?
Rebecca: Loosely constructed ones.

I like the fact that the electronics are… well electronic, but the live elements of sax voice drums are very under effected, and clean.. the contrast is nice… discuss?

Amanda: We like the combination of the living animal with the cold mechanical. It creates a richer sound.
Rebecca: The electronics themselves are actually pretty under effected, I think, as far as electronics go.
Ben: I see no difference in an acoustic drum or a can opener. If it makes a sound, it makes music.

Your website states a new drummer, whats up with that?

Amanda: Our old drummer, me, moved to New York, which was a big pain in the ass for all involved. The main two things I regret about leaving DC are not being able to play with the Caution Curves anymore, and not being able to see my little brother as much.
Rebecca: I was sad when Amanda moved away, as I knew that, in addition to the band becoming a bit less active, it would mean seeing her less often. Then Ben fell out of the sky, sort of like a gift from the gods.he’s amazing and totally gets what we’re doing.
Ben: I’m but Amanda’s understudy. I’m just a placeholder, the role belongs to her.

What program/s are you using and how do you construct the electronics?

Rebecca: I use Ableton Live and Sound Forge. Constructing the electronics basically involves me recording all sorts of sounds, from field recordings of strangers talking to snippets of live instrumentation I’ve recorded myself, and then altering them just enough so that they sound completely different from their original form.

Where have you come from musically?

Amanda: DC punk, late 80s through today. The Ex, especially the early stuff that involves recordings of lots of weird noises, like the stuff on the Joggers and Smoggers album. People singing and playing music in church when I was growing up. My grandmother’s collection of little toy instruments. Phil Ochs. The Talking Heads.
Rebecca: A radio program called Krapp’s Last Tape that aired on WCSB in Cleveland in the early 90s. Mix of noise, spoken word, random audio, and white space. Always thought it’d be cool to have a band that sounded like that.
Ben: The swish and clanking of the dishes in the dishwasher.

What was your first record you actually bought?

Amanda: I believe it was the Dead Milkmen’s “Big Lizard in My Backyard,” purchased in seventh grade, 1984. But it was a cassette, not a record. First record may have been that Fugazi 7-inch with Song No, 1 on it, or maybe the first Gray Matter album, sometime in high school.
Rebecca: “Autoamerican” by Blondie. I was nine. Yeah, Debbie Harry was my role model when I was in third grade.
Ben: General Hospi-tale by the Afternoon Delights.

Do you think in terms of sound or music?

Amanda: Both. I’m interested in sound as music. In thinking of everything aural as potentially music.
Rebecca: Almost entirely in terms of sound.
Ben: Rhythm is everywhere. Music is rhythm.

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