Soviet fans of forbidden Western music used to smuggle records pressed into used X-ray film, a practice that lent them the name “music on bones.”
Now, a Western anti-censorship collaboration has revived the practice, with acts like the British trip-hop band Massive Attack putting out unreleased material on X-rays. Anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot and U.S. philosopher Noam Chomsky are also attached to the project, whose proceeds will go to a Dutch-based “unconventional research” charity.
Just like their Soviet predecessors, the records can only be played 10 to 15 times before the audio disappears.
Massive Attack’s contribution includes a cover of Soviet punk rocker Yegor Letov's anti-Soviet anthem “Everything Is Going According to Plan.” Performed live with filmmaker Adam Curtis in 2013, the song appeared online six years later last week.
The public can bid on 10 original copies of the X-ray record, which have been engraved by The Bureau of Lost Culture, a project of London musician Stephen Coates.
An 11th copy will be archived at the University of the Underground charity’s so-called “Library of Dangerous Thoughts.”
Massive Attack has sold more than 11 million copies of their five studio albums since 1991.