Bones, Thugs, Harmony – 骨头、暴徒、和声

Picture Piece - 01 Jun 2017

Bones, Thugs, Harmony

X-ray records in the Soviet Union

By Harry Thorne

Artistic offerings in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union were highly regulated, to put it lightly. Literature was redacted, radio frequencies were blocked and Stalin himself was appointed chief film censor. As German Marxist theorist and activist Clara Zetkin recalled, Lenin had pioneered this approach some years before: ‘Every artist’, he said, ‘has the right to create freely […] But then, we are Communists, and ought not to stand idly by and give chaos free rein.’

When it came to music, rein was anything but free. Blue-pencilled forms included: music referencing violence; music referencing religion; folk music; jazz; the saxophone; the music of émigrés; the music of former criminals; the tango; the foxtrot – which, apparently, too closely resembled sex – and, especially, music from the West.

Thankfully, that didn’t curb the chaos. In the late 1940s, bootleg records began to appear on the black markets of Leningrad, courtesy of jazz enthusiasts and self-taught sound technicians Ruslan Bugaslovsky and Boris Taigin (‘The Golden Dog Gang’). They possessed outlawed master discs, from which they ripped gritty bootlegs, and built a recording lathe from salvaged parts. But due to a ban on vinyl, the duo was forced to work with unorthodox discs: used X-rays, purchased at the backdoors of hospitals.

With their edges roughly cut and the holes at their centres burnt with cigarettes, these X-ray records – which became known as ‘bones’ – caught on quickly. Soon, the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Vadim Kozin, Pyotr Leshchenko and The Beatles were being pushed like noisy narcotics on street corners from Moscow to Kiev and Odessa. So synonymous did ghostly radiographics become with censored music that certain artists came to be associated with the particular ailment within which their music was concealed. Elvis was a lung. Duke Ellington was a brain tumour.

When the authorities caught on in the late 1950s, it wasn’t enough to raid markets or banish those involved to gulags. Instead, Soviet officials flooded the market with their own bespoke ‘bones’, some of which would ruin gramophone needles. Others were spliced with pro-USSR content: ‘Fuck you, anti-Soviet slime!’ While ingenious, these tactics were not the downfall of the X-ray record. Underwhelmingly, that came in 1966 with the emergence of the reel-to-reel cassette tape.

To play us out, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates: ‘Shakes in the kneebone / I got the tremors in the thighbone / Shakin’ all over / Well, you make me shake and I like it’

Main image: Bill Haley & The Comets, ‘Rock Around the Clock’, 1955, X-Ray disc, c.1957.  Courtesy: X-Ray Audio Project

Harry Thorne

Harry Thorne is assistant editor of frieze and a contributing editor of The White Review. He is based in Berlin, Germany.

Picture Piece
Harry Thorne

Issue 188

First published in Issue 188

June - August 2017

图片- 01军2017骨,暴徒,和谐的X射线记录在苏联Harry Thorne的艺术作品在Joseph Stalin的苏联是高度管制,以轻描淡写。文学被修改,无线电频率被封锁,斯大林本人被任命为电影审查员。正如德国马克思主义理论家和活动家克拉拉·蔡特金回忆的那样,列宁几年前就开创了这种方法:“每一位艺术家,”他说,“都有自由创造的权利……但是,我们是共产主义者,不应该袖手旁观,放任混乱。”当谈到音乐时,缰绳决不是免费的。蓝铅笔形式包括:音乐引用暴力;音乐引用宗教;民间音乐;爵士乐;萨克斯管;艾米盖尔的音乐;前罪犯的音乐;探戈;狐步舞,这显然与性爱过于相似,尤其是来自西方的音乐。谢天谢地,这并没有抑制混乱。在20世纪40年代后期,盗版唱片开始出现在Leningrad的黑市上,有爵士乐爱好者和自学成才的音响技师Ruslan Bugaslovsky和Boris Taigin(“金狗帮”)的礼遇。他们拥有非法的主光盘,从中撕开砂砾的靴子,并用打捞的零件制造了一台录音车床。但由于对乙烯基的禁令,二人被迫与非传统的光盘:使用X射线,在医院后门购买。他们的边缘被粗略地切割,在他们的中心被香烟烧焦,这些X射线记录被称为“骨骼”,很快就被发现了。很快,Ella Fitzgerald、Vadim Kozin、Pyotr Leshchenko和披头士乐队的声音被推到莫斯科、基辅和敖德萨街头的嘈杂麻醉剂中。因此,幽灵射线照相的同义词变成了被审查的音乐,某些艺术家来到了与他们的音乐被隐藏的特定疾病相关。埃尔维斯是肺。杜克?艾灵顿是一个脑瘤。当当局在20世纪50年代末被捕时,不足以突袭市场或驱逐那些涉足古拉格斯的人。相反,苏联官员用他们自己定制的“骨头”充斥市场,其中一些会毁掉留声机针。另一些则与亲苏联的内容拼接在一起:“操你,反苏联黏液!”虽然巧妙,这些策略并不是X射线记录的垮台。令人不快的是,出现了1966的卷轴卷轴磁带的出现。为了让我们出场,Johnny Kidd和海盗们:“在膝盖骨中摇动/我全身颤抖/颤抖,你让我颤抖,我喜欢它的主要形象:比尔·哈利和彗星,‘摇滚时钟’,1955,X光碟,C.1957。礼貌:X射线音频项目哈里索恩哈里索恩是助理编辑的弗里泽和NBSP和一个特约编辑的怀特评论。他位于德国柏林。图片音乐哈里索恩188年第一期发行于六月188 - 2017年8月


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