released August 1980
Pictured are Josef K, a band currently the subject of much interest due to their very fine “Radio Drill Time” single on Postcard.
An Edinburgh band, the four members have known each other since their schooldays. Hesitant talkers, they find it difficult to discuss their music, which is written mostly by Paul with some music co-written by Malcolm. Lyrically enigmatic and introvert, it’s song based and descended from American new wave like Television and Talking Heads rather than British punk. Comparisons with Joy Division have also been aired, though rather inaccurately.
The band take their name from a character in a Kafka novel called “The Trial” where an unsuspecting man is suddenly hauled before the authorities on a charge that is never specified.
“It really fits what we do,” offers Malcolm, “I think you can see similarities.”
Josef K’s music, it seems, is instinctive (“whatever comes out”), trying to communicate their feelings, to move people emotionally. “Radio Drill Time” itself, according to Paul, is about the message conveyed through songs and the feelings aroused, “which can be used, either harmfully or to good effect.” (Smash Hits, 02/10/80)
I’m unschooled in Josef K but I’m learning fast. “Radio Drill Time” from the start of 1980 is notable for jagged guitar strum, almost casually played drums and spacious production, very much lo-fi and heralds the new independent sound of young Scotland. What is that electro synth noise occasionally interrupting the bass heavy din?
The song was inspired by the sleeve notes of Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music.”
The other side “Crazy To Exist” was seemingly recorded live in someone’s living room! The fast opening chords of the spiky guitar made me think I was playing the disc at the wrong speed but then I thought, hold on, I’m playing this at 45rpm.
There will be more Josef K records under the spotlight in future “Transmissions” because I’m very intrigued by their artistic approach. (Yellow Paper Suns)