Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Clue to Kalo, with Hearts of Animals

When Owen Ashworth was just an unknown film school dropout recording minimalist pop in his bedroom for an audience of dozens, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone seemed an apt band name. More recently, with the litany of collaborations, stage-­sharing tours and split releases Ashworth has enjoyed over the past year or so, Ashworth might want to consider renaming his band.

Not that CFTPA's music has changed that much. Ashworth still favors lo-fi production and basic yet affecting melodies; earnestness still defines the CFTPA songbook. It's only that he grows ever less painfully alone. With every new release of cheap-beat bliss and naked lyricism, his already strong cult following comes closer and closer to mainstream indie ­superstardom.

Clue to Kalo's music should be the soundtrack to a spiritual retreat for the information age: His network of salty strings, sustained harpsichords and tender tambourines is ideally suited for digital decompression. See, Clue to Kalo (né Mark Mitchell) isn't indulging instruments in any old meditation mosque. Nope, the Australian solo artist is layering grassy whispers, ambient airs and chamomile melodies virtual-style on his home computer — composing an almost literal interpretation of folktronica (like synths meeting George Harrison, or blips finding Badly Drawn Boy). Though he does sport the occasional guest instrument-player (or two) at his live shows, his computer still bows center stage as the ultimate zen-strument that can both downloadeth and system faileth away.

Peripatetic Mlee Marie Suprean's indie-folk/electronic/noise project Hearts of Animals, written up in these pages last month, opens.

 
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