Call me old fashioned, but any musical act that is primarily composed of keyboards and drum machines strikes me as a little phony. This is not necessarily the case for Chicago-based one-man electronic band Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, who will be performing with locals New Ruins Friday at the Courtyard Café.
Owen Ashworth, who has been performing under the moniker Casiotone for the Painfully Alone since 1998, is one calculated dude. Originally composing material on a battery-powered Casio keyboard, Ashworth has since branched out on his newest release, Etiquette, to include further authentic instrumentation in order to create something uniquely organic out of what could very easily become contrived or synthetic. By blending electro-pop beats with the bleeps and blops of novelty keyboard tones, Ashworth creates and intriguing array of sonic attacks that would lend themselves perfectly to the soundtrack of a Wes Anderson film.
But perhaps the key to understanding Casiotone for the Painfully Alone is right in front our faces: the “painfully alone” part. Now in his early 30’s, Ashworth composes, well…painfully alone. His melancholy, bittersweet subject matter lends itself well to the simplicity of electronica. Ashworth’s voice, arguably one of the more organic assets of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, blends the deliberate diction of Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen and a little Beck to create wonderful pop lullabies that are saturated with the kind of pain, heartbreak and jubilance that you haven’t felt since you were 13.
It will be exciting to witness how Casiotone for the Painfully Alone’s very personal sound translates into the live arena, but Ashworth’s predilection to layering synthetic sounds should make an interesting atmosphere, to say the least.
Local indie heroes New Ruins will get the show started and should transition well into Casiotone’s set as both acts have a mutual flair for musical tension. For newcomers to campus or town, New Ruins will offer you a supreme glimpse into what C-U’s music scene has to offer if you are willing to venture beyond the confines of Green Street.