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How Cosmograf overcame the odds to come back stronger than ever

After debilitating health problems and a difficult fifth album, Robin Armstrong was wondering where to go next with Cosmograf. But today he’s fitter, happier and is back with a bang

He laughs it off, but Robin Armstrong’s been through the wringer lately.

For much of his adult life the Cosmograf linchpin has been plagued by chronic neck pain. It got so bad that by last year he was downing stop-a-horse painkillers just to get by. “It was horrible,” he tells Prog, with a wan laugh bereft of any humour. “It got to a stage where I couldn’t sleep, I’d spent thousands of pounds on physio and tests that didn’t help, and I was downing Amitriptyline just to function, but it knocked me for six. I could play or work at the mixing desk for half an hour but then had to stop. I’d wake up and go to bed in terrible pain. It was an utter nightmare.”

Then last March, a breakthrough. A lump he’d always had on his right arm – his picking arm – had begun to get noticeably larger. It then become clear to his doctor that this tumour (benign, fortunately) was the problem. It was sited on the radial nerve controlling motor function down the arm, and was relaying pain through Armstrong’s nervous system up to his neck. Desperate by now, he was referred to a specialist unit in London, where the tumour was removed in September.

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