Today on my lunchtime jaunt to Waitrose in Bloomsbury to pick up some halloween novelties I spotted a mythical character not usually seen around these parts. The guy was in his mid 60’s, grey hair styled into a compact quiff and had on a pair of chunky brothel creepers. The leather biker’s jacket he wore had a selection of patches (a few shaped like Iron Crosses) on the back and he looked me straight in the eye as if I was his enemy and gave me such a scowl. This was a genuine teddy boy/greaser hybrid that once frequented English seaside towns or drove buses in the Midlands in the 1970’s.
I was on my way back from the supermarket this lunchtime and walked past The Horse Hospital, Bloomsbury and saw an A4 sign on the door advertising an exhibition for “X-Ray Audio” a free exhibition about “Forbidden Music, Cold War Culture and Bootleg Technology.” How could I refuse…
It was about recordings cut into X-ray plates from the cold war period when certain music was forbidden. Here’s what it says about them on x-rayaudio.squarespace.com
“In the Soviet states during the cold-war era, most modern Western bands and music was banned for all sorts of reasons including ‘neo-fascism’, ‘mysticism’ and even ‘obscurantism’. Much Russian music was also forbidden for a variety of other reasons. Even certain rhythms were regarded unfavourably. But a vibrant, secret and risky trade grew up in what became known as ‘Bones’ or ‘Ribs’”.
“These Bones were medical X-Ray fluorography sheets unofficially obtained from hospitals, cut into discs and embossed with the grooves of bootlegged gramophone records – a kind of medical version of a DJ dub plate.”
To find out more about these illegal x-ray releases have a look here and to hear them go here.
The exhibition runs only until the end of this week so if you like the sound of spooky recordings made onto x-rays go and have a look before it’s too late (30th January 2015)! P