X-Ray Audio – Recorded music in Soviet Russia on the bone

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On Wednesday (9th March) I went along to an event at Rough Trade East off of Brick Lane promoting a book called ‘X-Ray Audio – The Strange Story of Soviet Music on the Bone’, a tome about bootlegged western and banned music in post war Russia, in which many Russian citizens suffered imprisonment because of their love of music and their willingness to make it available in a state that banned much of it. With little to put their music on these guys pressed music onto discarded used X-Ray plates. The recorded quality was not great but it was better than nothing. My attendance was prompted by a performance from Marc Almond, whose performances were cut to X-Rays live on the night (without too much success!). This performance of ‘Friendship’ a song Marc knew of from his Russian musical hero, Vadim Kozim, was recorded to one of Marc’s own X-Rays, presumably of his gruesome injuries following a life threatening motorcycle accident in London in 2004. The recording did not work too well (modern X-Ray  plates do not lend themselves as well to the process as much as the older ones used in Russia half a century ago.) Here though is my trusty iPhone recording of the performance.

The resultant recording was unplayable, Marc’s crowd rousing foot stomping basically not helping the process (which can be seen on the projector screen behind him). Before this, Stephen Coates, the editor of the book and performer in the Real Tuesday Weld, presented his story of how the book came together. This is his presentation at TEDxKrakow

On the X-Ray Audio website there is also a short documentary on the subject. This is it.

The evening was informative, interesting and enjoyable, including Marc’s all too brief, under-rehearsed but enthusiastic performance. The book is a wonderful read. Finally, here is Marc’s BBC World Service radio documentary (from late 2015) on the previously mentioned Vadim Kozin. Marc cut an album of Kozin’s songs, released in 2009, called ‘Orpheus In Exile’. 

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