Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Most people don't say it out loud, but when they are backed into a corner, they'll volunteer that they like hearing about lonesome love and desperately doomed relationships. It's the same reason they choose to read gossip rags and care about all of the baloney that happens to Billy Bob Thorton and Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise and Prince William around the clock. They want it over the top. They want it hopeless. They want to see impermissible amounts of illogic, gaudy extravagance, royalty and going overboard into the great big drink, but more than that, they want to see terrible, messy breakups (or at least hear about them) and they want to see people on the verge of crumbling into shambles - more wreckage for the gutter and the garbage disposal. If they can witness the tumble, the unraveling in the first person, they feel that smidge of remorse, but more so they feel the pleasurable sting of comfort in knowing that it's a big crowd of people who must be sorrier or more miserable than they are. It gives that opportunity for the gawkers and onlookers to tsk-tsk and second guess, backseat drive and Sunday quarterback the outside situation right into the ground. It's not really so much about being better off though, it's about feeling that glow - the happiness in misery. More controversial still would be the thought that some even go so far as to secretly covet those broken down loves so they can wallow. It's all that is believed. It's all that is known.
Owen Ashworth of the world famous Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, is a generally happy fellow, a man with barrelfuls of mirth and merriment at his disposal, though he sings in the way of a non-plussed sad sack with a long line of puppies getting turned into oil stains on the road in front of his home stacked in the past. He is not a conscious collector of these addictive tales of dog-eared troubles and gray skies. He's probably rather be without them, but he is without contest the foremost curator of these lemony memories of the gone wrong. Not only does he bring them to the fire - fictionalized or not - but he makes them feel like little buddies. The nightmares of love having turned into a different direction or having flown the coop, recoiled back as quickly as it had initially appeared are what he finds fascinating and in turn makes them sound even more fascinating with his lone wolf moniker and operation, the squiggly, programmed brio and the Casio wrap of frosting - the signature computer/video games sounds most often found humming and brimming from the basements of lonely boys playing endless sessions of video games. He finds the lengths to which those of us might sink in our individual depressions to be quite interesting (though don't mistake that for gloating or some sick version of celebration), the makings of these pointed spots of real life poetry. He writes in a precise and direct way - shown nicely in this "hat trick" session of songs - that makes the identifier very close to the vest and yet completely exposed.
There likely was an exact event or jumping off point for all of the songs that Ashworth writes, but better yet, what if there wasn't? If these are all made up tales of leaving cities, leaving people - always leaving, always hoping that a reunion and a return are going to happen sometime in the future - and getting it on with the heavy-handed grief that is the caboose, his ability to nail the spot on worst of the worst and most poignant of the recognized poignant windows into wherever lets us know that the blinds aren't drawn enough. He can still see in. We can all be read and the iridescent shine that we give off in our invisibility - the chambers that house those sneaky flashes of real intrigue of real wonder - is shown here, within the dance-ready sullenness of the Casiotone For The Painfully Alone catalog, and it can be another sort of beacon.
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