Casiotone for the Painfully Alone 

First Two Albums

Anyone who’s used a battery-powered Casio sampling keyboard knows one thing: the “surf” effect is totally useless. But Owen Ashworth manages to use it successfully on more than one occasion, proving that Casiotone for the Painfully Alone isn’t just a cheeky name. His songs exclusively use those toy instruments, and the result may be twee as hell, but it’s at least charming in the process. Of course, old Casios are intrinsically lo-fi, and the hour of fuzz collected on CFTPA’s First Two Albums (now being reissued on one CD) is pretty grating. Independently, his 1999 release Pocket Symphonies For Lonesome Subway Cars and 2001’s Answering Machine Music are great, as are all the mini character sketches inside. But more than an hour of the same toy keyboards makes it clear that Ashworth is a one-trick pony — two-trick if you include proper “laser gun” placement.

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