Stephen Coates and Paul Heartfield


During the Cold War in Soviet Russia, when the recording industry was ruthlessly controlled by the State, music-mad bootleggers found an incredible alternative means of making illegal copies of forbidden Recordings. They re-purposed used x-ray plates obtained from local hospitals, and recorded forbidden jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and banned Russian music. Many elders in Russia nowadays still recall seeing those strange vinyl-like discs called ‘Bones’ or ‘Ribs’ because of the partial x-ray images on them.

Composer and music producer Stephen Coates came across the subject of the x-ray recordings when travelling to Russia for a performance over six years ago. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Stephen is particularly interested in the
interaction between music and culture, so he and Paul Heartfield, a regular portrait and archive photographer at the Houses of Commons and Lords in Westminster, with background in the music industry, began to research the story of the X-Ray recordings in Russia which gave life to their series of projects on Soviet musical history.


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