Bone Music: Soviet Forbidden Records

Bill Haley, Rock Around the Clock, 1950s, Lathe/hand-cut record on x-ray film. X-RAY AUDIO Collection

What would you do if tomorrow your government banned all your favourite songs, sent your country’s most popular singers to jail, and severely restricted access to foreign music? Whilst today this sounds like an impossible dystopia to many of us, it is what the population of the Soviet Union had to deal with between 1946 and 1964. To infringe on the state’s control over the recording industry, an underground market of censored songs came to life­ –out of old X-rays!– and music on the ribs, Roentgenizdat in Russian, was born.

The exhibition ‘Bone Music’ held at Garage, Moscow’s Museum of Contemporary Art, presents research by the X-Ray Audio project, based in London, on this unique episode of postwa