There has been a curiously first world response to the ease of access, proliferation, dissemination, lowering of cost and general abundance of music present in these parts of the world today (largely due to the pathways, ways and wiles of the zeros and ones ether); to seek out more awkward, fragile, expensive, hard to find, transport etc ways of listening to musical work..
You may come across the odd more overly esoteric recording technique or transmission such as floppy disks or even wax cylinders but generally this tendency to make things more difficult, to possibly attempt to reintroduce some kind of thrill of the chase to seeking culture has been carried out via modern day shellac (and occasionally it’s not so brittle flexible friends) and the ferrous reels of compact cassettes.
Which brings me to Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld’s book X-Ray Audio.
I first consciously became aware of this via Mr DJ Food’s website, where there is a fair amount of writing and considering of such things (and indeed some of the light-catchery of X-Ray Audio shown here originated there).
Along which lines, I think I shall let Mr DJ Food say what the project is about:
“Stephen Coates‘ ‘X-Ray Audio’ book… (is) …about how underground bootleggers from the Soviet Union used to cut forbidden music onto old X-Rays. It’s a fascinating read in a time when we have pretty much any media we desire at our fingertips. It tells of a time where just possessing certain records could get you in serious trouble or even thrown in prison. Having to buy forbidden songs for huge amounts of money that were sometimes not even on the disc or of a fidelity so bad that they were virtually unlistenable.”
Contemporary demonstrations of such techniques this side of the (once) ferrous curtain, featuring a certain doyen of dissolution here.