Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

There, in a dark corner of the thrift store, trembling beneath a pile of Commodore 64s and busted answering machines, you might find a Casio. Never considered much of a serious musical instrument, the Casio keyboard is the type of cheap, disposable noisemaker you might have let your younger siblings play with to annoy the hell out of their babysitter. But San Francisco's Owen Ashworth, otherwise known as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, has reclaimed and breathed new life into the circuitry of these obsolete contraptions. Since his 2001 debut, Pocket Symphonies for Lonely Subway Cars, Ashworth has harnessed the anachronistic skronk of scrambled silicon and outmoded electronics, twisting tinny bleeps into pure pop songs punctuated by his breathy, plainspoken baritone. His most recent release is last year's Twinkle Echo, a work that whirs along with frazzled beats and junkyard android melodies, almost cinematic in its visions of late nights, pensive faces and the psychic detritus of barren lives. Quirky, catchy and melancholic, the castoff sounds of Casiotone are well worth the salvage operation.


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