The Comsat Angels, C.S. Angels, The Headhunters, Dream Command...  All this & more
Kitchen Sync Drama  - Melody Maker 11th September 1982

The Comsat Angels Fiction (Polydor)

 '' If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen ''. (Martin Fry, 1982)  

Can you feel the heat? Two years of searching high and low for the unknown pleasure, waiting for the promised miracle, and have you broken sweat yet? You look terrible. Can ABC really be the musical high point of 1982? That's appalling. But does it make you want to walk away and Do The Empty House from the pit of an empty elevator shaft? No, of course not. But where's the heat? Where's the friction? You need some Fiction...  

Fiction is the conclusion of a trilogy and the promise of... well, not miracles exactly, but something promising. Where Waiting For A Miracle was the illegitimate child of a hard rock bitten by the Sheffield bug - a vicious little bastard - so Sleep No More was the restless realisation of a rhythmic legacy. And where Miracle and Sleep become Fiction is when the Comsat Angels want to make you sweat AND SWEAT. The kitchen door is open and itís freezing in here. Please come in. PLEASE.  

"A sky full of tears, is threatening to fall - don't stand in the rain, come inside and close the door - the sky will clear again, after the rain." 

After The Rain is overwhelming in its simplicity and sparsity of sound, defiant in its snub of the prevalent virtues of drossy, glossy excess. Sincerity doesn't have to be grand. Spacey, tinkering rhythms glow white beneath a delicate intonation. Organisation and intonation are the passwords to the kitchen. Can you remember all that? Emotion is inherent, it's natural, is obvious, it doesn't have to be orchestrated.  

Zinger is faster. A different pace from the same kitchen. The drums (they have got some incredible drum sounds) beat an outlandish track but never the beaten track. The guitar (the guitar effects are...... weird) is riddled with mesmerising effects, distorted harmonics, tortured chords, and Fiction is the record Bunnymen have nightmares about making.  

Far more empty than Waiting For A Miracle, emptier even than Sleep No More, Fiction occupies a far richer and less transient (at least I hope so) niche in recording history. The Comsat Angels have come in from the cold, let's have a party. Even the cover presents a glittering parade of multi-coloured icicles, juxtaposed just so, to break the ice. It needed breaking. 

Fiction cracks the cold mystique of Independence Day and Total War and reassembles it as something far more complete. Principally, though, it's JuJu Money, the track that initially showcased the Comsats on the South Yorkshire compilation album Bouquet Of Steel, that reflects perfectly the flight of the angels. A million miles away from the listenable but amateurish hard rock song it once was, JuJu is now a bristling threat of pure invective. Guitars skate on glass, tearing into the sound and smearing crude chords into the hollow of every rhythmic change.  

But let me stress again, Fiction isn't an alternative miracle (they don't exist). This is just the Comsat Angels breathing a little fire into your kitchen. The most marked failure of Fiction is illustrated on More, a sombre duet with vocals and drums toying, annoying each other and occasionally stumbling into Pils Flowers Of Romance. But then I'm not searching for a perfect record.  

There was a time when the Comsat Angels used to playing Sheffield. I remember well the time singer and guitarist Stephen Fellows answered a sartorial critic by saying  

'' We are sorry if weíre not wearing our best clothes but it's cold outside.'' but it's always been cold outside, and the Comsats have never worn anything to please.  

So why don't you step inside? Itís much warmer in here.  

Amrik Rai

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