Over the next few days, Coates found that he had stumbled upon the postwar Soviet phenomenon of “bone music” (roentgenizdat) – bootleg recordings of music pressed on to discarded x-rays that had been banned in the USSR, lest they promote insurrectionary tendencies in listeners.
The clamour among young Russians for jazz and rock’n’roll during the cold war years is brought home by the range of materials on show at X-Ray Audio. Unofficial recordings weren’t pressed only on to x-rays – at the Horse Hospital, there are records made from road signs and circular cake plinths. Also working on X-Ray Audio with Coates is musician and sound-recording enthusiast Aleks Kolkowski, and on Friday the pair will present an evening of stories and demonstrations of the recording process in action, at which Kolkowski – the owner of a 1940s recording lathe – will record on to x-rays. “One thing this has shown me is that the format is completely integral to the listening experience,” explains Kolkowski, who also “repurposes” unwanted CDs by etching grooves into them, adjusting the hole in the middle and creating five-inch jukebox records. “CDs actually sound fantastic once you make them into actual records.”
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