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X-Ray Audio – Soviet “Bones” [кости], “Ribs” [рёбра], “Roentgenizdat” [рентгениздат]

July 23, 2014

The Soviet-era “bones” [кости], “ribs” [рёбра] or “roentgenizdat” [рентгениздат] are so-called because one cheap, reliable source of suitable raw material is discarded medical x-rays, which have the added benefit of including ready-made and interesting images. The name roentgenizdat comes from the combination of roentgen ray (another word for X-ray) and izdat (Russian: издат, abbr. издательство, izdatel’stvo, “publishing house”), patterned after the word samizdat (“self-published”, or underground literature). X-ray records emerged at the time of the Stilyagi as an underground medium for distribution of jazz music, which was prohibited in the Soviet Union after World War II. This format was also particularly attractive to politically suppressed punk rock music and the “do it yourself” punk ethic, since other publishing outlets were much less accessible.

Footage from the superb Joseph Brodsky biopic “Room and a Half” [Полторы комнаты] by Andrei Khrzhanovsky [2009].

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