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Casiotone For The Painfully Alone

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone
‘Vs. Children’

If you’re worried that Casiotone For The Painfully Alone might be some kind of horrific neon-clad electro/emo hybrid, then lay those fears to rest – the reality is a far more inviting prospect. CFTPA is the brainchild of a certain Owen Ashworth; a former California film-school student who, in 1998, set off on a musical journey with only his old battery-powered Casio keyboard for company.

To date, it’s been a largely successful journey, and Owen now enjoys a dedicated cult following – one that is surely set to grow with the release of ‘Vs. Children‘. That keyboard may have served him well, but – as on 2006’s ‘Etiquette‘ album – it’s been increasingly pushed aside in favour of pianos, organs, acoustic percussion and various samples. The result sounds almost like a lo-fi Johnny Cash tinkering with the instruments in his local church; a comparison aided by Owen’s deep, resonant vocals. It’s a more expansive sound in comparison to previous CFTPA records, but his signature sense of warmth and intimacy has not been lost.

As you might expect from the instrumentation, there’s a certain lyrical fascination with religion on show here (check the weary, organ-led shuffle of ‘Harsh The Herald Angels Sing‘) and also with crime (opening track ‘Tom Justice, The Choir Boy Robber, Apprehended at Ace Hardware in Libertyville, IL‘ is apparently inspired by the arrest of one of Owen’s former co-workers). Yes, this is a man with stories to tell, and a pretty damn fine way of telling them.

‘Vs. Children‘ may not instantly grab you, but give it two or three listens and its understated charm will rapidly take hold of your senses. Check out ‘Optimist Vs. The Silent Alarm‘ on the link above.

Alex Gosman