Saturday, December 11, 2010

Roentgenizdat: Soviet Era "X-Ray LPs" of Banned Western Recordings

From Weird Vibrations

October 12, 2009
Roentgenizdat: Sentimental Songs on X-Ray

In the 1950s, music enthusiasts in the Soviet Union made copies of banned Western records using sheets of x-ray film purchased from clinics and hospitals. Photographic film, like wax, acetate, or vinyl, is thick and firm enough to be used with commercially available music engraving machines. X-rays weren’t the ideal medium, being prone to warping, but they worked well enough, and were cheap to boot.

Comments on roentgenizdat have been floating around for a few years, and Princeton English professor Eduardo Cadava is writing a book on the subject, out soon.

Roentgenizdat are interesting, first, as a series of artifacts. Prefiguring picture disks, non-circular shapes, and other graphically novel record gimmicks, these albums feel like an early example of what few people got into until the 70s and 80s – experimentation with records as objects. Although dubbing onto x-ray was in this case a matter of political necessity rather than unprovoked aesthetic tinkering, the dubbers quite clearly paid attention to the images they chose, as well as the placement of the center holes.

Read the entire post HERE.

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