Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Caldo Verde Records
Advance BaseA Shut-In's Prayer[Orindal / Caldo Verde; 2012]By Colin Joyce; May 16, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetWhen Owen Ashworth announced in December of 2010 that Advance Base would indeed be the moniker to rise from the ashes of his much beloved Casiotone for the Painfully Alone project, it seemed unclear what the distinction really was. Ashworth’s work as Casiotone always dealt in similar lo-fi synth and drums tone, with his instrumental palette expanding throughout the years of the project’s existence. The debut piece he worked on under this new name was some production work on a Serengeti 7” that came out on Asthmatic Kitty and this, as well as the 6 tracks he produced on Serengeti’s debut solo effort for Anticon seemed to bear the characteristic marks of Casiotone tracks.
Quit feeling so sorry for yourself. Depending on the context, that was likely either your reaction to hearing Casiotone For the Painfully Alone, or the reaction of your friends when you said Casiotone was your favorite band. But probably no one heard that more than Owen Ashworth himself. Over Casiotone's 15 years, Ashworth coupled bedroom-quality Casio keyboards with LiveJournal-ready confessionals that made his band name an astute exercise in self-awareness.
Owen Ashworth is familiar with nostalgia. His work as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, an often lo-fi, not-always-Casiotone-based indie pop project that officially came to an end in 2010, encompassed a range of emotions that often tasted more "bitter" than "sweet. " Regret, longing, desire, scorn, and jealousy frequently featured on the menu, but what made those feelings resonate was the presence of memory in his songwriting, the idea that even the most painful experiences are worth remembering.
So Advance Base has Owen Ashworth and a few other players laying different kinds of keys over basic drum-machine beats. On paper, it sounds a lot like his last project, Casiotone For the Painfully Alone. To hear his first Advance Base full-length, though, titled A Shut-In’s Prayer, is to be pleasantly surprised by how much has changed even if the basic elements are the same.
After discovering that Advance Base is the new moniker of Owen Ashworth (formally known as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone), A Shut-In's Prayer makes a lot more sense. It isn't just a simple extension of his last project; it is the next logical step in his musical odyssey. It isn't the hugest step forward, in that things are still pretty lo-fi when it comes to his sound, and there's still a reliance on drum machines and keyboards, but there's definitely more fleshing out than previously.
It might not come as a surprise that former Casiotone For The Painfully Alone front-bummer Owen Ashworth’s Chicago apartment studio shares its name with a bleak man cave. Advance Base, now also the name of Ashworth’s new project with Jody Weinmann, Edward Crouse and Nick Ammerman, was “the name of [an] outpost in Antarctica where [explorer Richard E. ] Byrd lived alone for five terrible months in 1934,” Ashworth said of his studio’s namesake.