Comsat Angels and Cold War Chic

Where the Sound is raw and eager, the Comsat Angels are focus and space, like a clearer but brooding little brother. I tend to like them more than the Sound, and unlike the Sound, the Comsat Angels were able to drop three dynamite records from 1980-1982, subsequently fall off for the rest of the eighties (stay away from post ’83, especially anything under the ‘CS Angels’ moniker), and then surprisingly deliver a solid record, My Mind’s Eye, in 1992. My Mind’s Eye sounds exactly as if the Comsat Angels had heard the Catherine Wheel’s debut album, a year or so before, and had said ‘hell, we can do that.”

Renascent is reissuing some of these records; I found them on used vinyl — I paid $2 for Sleep No More – yup, that’s not a typo — and I also bought the first three albums on cd via a four-disc, unofficial bootleg entitled “It’s History.” Had I known it was a boot, I would’ve stayed away. The Renascent site has some writing by CSA members on the reissues, chances on a reunion, etc. But it looks like these guys got shafted in the label game in general, so please reward them by snapping up the reissues. The Comsat Angels are more important to current bands than many current bands could guess

Sleep No More
(1981) is their masterpiece, a claustrophobic, knotty album of hulking drums, wiry guitar, and an altogether paranoid feeling that I can only unfortunately describe as Cold War Chic – something I cannot place, on wax, before this album really, with the exception of the Sound. If someone else did it, they didn’t do it this well, and few did it without getting corny (think ‘Russians’ by Stink). Overall, I’m stunned how undated some of this sounds, especially the title track.

More on My Mind’s Eye later. For now, three from Sleep No More:

The Comsat Angels – Sleep No More
bassline like battlefield horns:
The Comsat Angels – Be Brave
The hit single:
The Comsat Angels – (Do The) Empty House

2 thoughts on “Comsat Angels and Cold War Chic

  1. Sleep No More is to the Comsat Angels what the Bends is to Radiohead: a classic, and timeless.Aside from the stellar performances (and songwriting), the production is excellent. No one had heard drums recorded like this since When the Levee Breaks. If they sound like explosions down an elevator shaft, it’s because they were recorded in an elevator shaft.Check out also The Glamour, their final album and a worthy successor to My Mind’s Eye.JS

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