In Leningrad (today’s Saint Petersburg), young music lover Ruslan Bogoslowsky managed to build a transcription lathe – a 3-kilogram “portable” device able to record live sounds on waxed or acetate discs, then mainly used by radio journalists.Fascinating. I suppose the thrill of listening to forbidden music on bootleg records helped to make up for the poor sound quality.
When it came to choosing the recording material, Coates says, discarded X-rays were an obvious choice. “ X-ray film is soft enough to be recorded on, but strong enough to hold the groove,” he explains. “It was also very easy to find: Russian hospitals had to get rid of their X-rays within one year because they were flammable, back then.”
Bogoslowsky teamed up with some friends to create the “Golden Dog Gang”: a bootlegger outfit able to get hold of smuggled vinyls and churn out tens of copies of “bone” records.
It was a laborious process yielding mediocre results: a lathe had to be positioned next to the gramophone playing the vinyl original, and it could only make one record at a time – one song at a time, in fact, as its maximum length was three minutes.
Sound quality wasn’t great either – some of the bootleggers Coates spoke with said X-ray music “sounded like sand” – and the records tended to wear off over time. Still, they were the only thing around, and they cost a few rubles. (The trade wasn’t particularly lucrative.)
Quickly, Bogoslowsky’s technique spread across Russia, as peddlers of X-ray records mushroomed at every corner of every major city.
Monday, August 7, 2017
X-Ray Music from Soviet Times
made on x-ray film: