We are in residency at Soho Radio, London from November 12th - November 25th.

We have transformed the shop front of the station on Great Windmill Street into a little bit of Leningrad 1959. Come in and see it and say hello if you are passing. We also have a pope-ray audio shop where you can buy our super cool X-Ray T Shirts, cards based and nuts of original Soviet ephemera - and make it a very Happy X-Ray Mass this year.

On Thursday November 15th, we have a FREE special live event at the station with drinks provided by Jaegermeister when we will be making new x-ray records live form performances by artists PINEY GIR and MARCELLA PUPPINI

We have made Five Radio Shows which will be broadcast during the residency:

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We tell the story of the x-ray bootleggers who defied the Soviet censor for the sake of the music they loved.

We hear why and how they did it with selections of music drawn from various x-ray records and hear the words of a surviving bootlegger - and we explore what it actually takes to cut music onto x-ray film.

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We are joined by oral historian and broadcaster Alan Dein.

We discuss the history, culture and technology of the coin operated machines that allowed ordinary people to make a record of themselves in the West - and, in adapted bootlegged form, to create records of forbidden music in the Soviet Union - all long before the advent of tape or digital recording.

We hear a selection of extraordinary recordings of strange and moving sounds from Alan’s collection, how the records were used to send messages home from the war, record visits to tourist destinations and to capture the sounds of loved ones in a way that was impossible before.


The Soviet records cut on x-rays in the cold war era are an unusual example of thin flexible vinyl type records that have carried all sort of audio - from advertisements through exclusive tracks by huge bands to experimental and deeply odd music.

We are joined by writer Barry Cain, editor of the massively influential 1980s Flexi Pop magazine, and collector DJ Food, creator of the extraordinary online Flexhibition, to explore the wonderful, wonky world of the flexi disc. 


We are joined by vinyl historian, writer and broadcaster Travis Elborough to discuss the murky world of the illegal recording.

The cold war era x-ray records made in defiance of the Soviet censor were just one example of illicit recordings made available by ‘bootleggers’ for various reasons from the ideological to the purely commercial.

We hear extraordinary examples from the 1960s - 1980s, the Golden Age of the vinyl bootleg, when record companies fought a losing battle, often against fans, to control just what of their artists output could be listened to.



Much of the music cut onto the Soviet x-ray records was not Jazz and Rock ’n’ Roll but Russian music- forbidden Russian music.  It was forbidden for various reasons - usually because the artists who made it lived in exile in the degenerate capitalist West.

We are joined by afficionados Jason Reid and Joe Dimnot to talk about the ways musicians in exile have gone on to create some of their best work and  toinfluence the culture of the countries that provide them shelter from persecution.

We hear a selection of tunes made and influenced by artists including Kurt Weill, Schoenberg, Gil Gilberto and Hugh Masakela.



We will be holding various live events over the next few months including a residency with a 'Bootleggers' Room' installation and various broadcasts at SOHO RADIO in November, evenings at British Library, Calvert 22 and The Horse Hospital - with very special guests.

Details will be published on the EVENTS page.

In Spring, we are planning more events around the UK before the X-Ray Audio exhibition goes to Tokyo in April. Our live events include illustrated  talks on the underground x-ray culture, demonstrations of how to cut live music to x-ray and a full blown X-Ray Cabaret. If you are interested to host us please get in touch.


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A major piece on the X-Ray Audio exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art featured on the Monday June 11th edition of BBC's flagship news program NEWSNIGHT.  The repost is based on our interviews with the BBC's Israel correspondent Tom Bateman and carries various sequences and interviews from our documentary ROENTGENIZDAT  

Play the clip below

The piece references our aim  of bringing the underlying theme of the exhibition - music and underground distribution as cultural resistance - into the present and make it local, in this case with examples / documentary films relating to the middle east.

Tom's mention of the exhibition coming to London in the Autumn refers to our upcoming residency at SOHO Radio in Great Windmill Street where we will create an installation and broadcast a series of programs over a two week period. That will be followed by live events at Calvert 22 and The Horse Hospital with various special guests. More details on those soon.

We are currently in the planning stage to take the exhibition to Tokyo in spring 2019 and to the US subsequently.

ROENTGENIZDAT at the COURAGE-PAREVO Documentary Film Festival

ROENTGENIZDAT our award winning documentary has been selected for the entire COURAGE-PAREVO cross-Europe Documentary Film Festival series focused on Counterculture, Dissent and Cultural Opposition in the Former Socialist Countries in Eastern Europe.

The first showing will be in Budapest on 1-2 June at the Premier Kultcafé. Then the festival travels to:

1-2 September 2018 - Warsaw

20 September 2018 - Prague

October 2018 - Zagreb

16-24 October, Greifswald, Germany

November 2018 - Bratislava

November-December (12-16 November) 2018 - Bucharest

More details HERE

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Our exhibition at Tel Aviv Museum of Art has just closed after five month run. It had a record number of visitors  - of all ages. There is a large Russian community in the city, but the subject of forbidden and underground culture seemed to really touch a nerve with many people locally.  Thanks to our collaborators and the curators at the museum. It was the biggest show we have yet done and looked amazing - see images below.

We are currently in talks to take the exhibition to Japan and to the US. If you are involved with an institution or suitable venue and want to work with us please get in touch.  As well as the full exhibition, we hold one-off live events often as part of festivals.

We will  have a residency at SOHO RADIO in November with a two week installation in central London. More details on that soon.

In the meantime, HERE is a great piece on the project in THE HINDU TIMES by Aditya Iyer.


Join us at THE BRITISH LIBRARY on February 9th to hear the incredible story of the cold war Russian bootleggers who risked imprisonment to make extraordinary records of the forbidden music they secretly loved. 

And we are very pleased to announce we will be joined for a one-off and very rare musical performance by underground maverick genius BARRY ADAMSON which will be cut directly to one of his own x-rays on our 1950s recording lathe and played straight back.

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BARRY ADAMSON is a multi-disciplinary artist who rose to prominence as the bass player in Magazine and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. 

His critically acclaimed solo work has seen him work with some of the film industry’s most intriguing mavericks including Derek Jarman,David Lynch, Oliver Stone and Danny Boyle. Having released nine studio albums, including the 1992 Mercury Music Prize nominated ‘Soul Murder’, he has composed music for TV series, adverts, computer games and an Olivier Award winning ballet performance. .



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The X-Ray Audio Exhibition is currently showing at TAMA Tel Aviv Museum Art until June 2018. It is the latest and largest  iteration of  our exhibition to date and is accompanied by a series of films and events we have curated on the subject of censorship, oppression and music.

More details HERE

The exhibition in Tel Aviv follows our shows in Moscow and St Petersburg last year. You can read THE JERUSALEM POST review HERE

Instead of a traditional exhibition catalogue, we produced an entire newspaper - distributed free with an edition of the  HAARETZ daily newspaper.

The paper contains  essays drawn from our book The Strange Story of Soviet Music on the Bone with original  essays and contributions by some of out invited guests and  collaborators. 

See below for images

Photos: Paul Heartfield

To see the latest images from our exhibition go HERE.


Our exhibition at GARAGE is installed. It looks astonishing - it has been a real pleasure to work with the people at the museum and there has been a huge amount of media coverage in Russia press and TV.

Here are a selection of images from the exhibition, opening event and X-Ray Cabaret we held in the museum when we cut new x-ray records live from performances by Russian musicians.

The exhibition runs until October when it will transfer to St Petersburg and then move to Tel Aviv in the new year. 


We are very pleased to have been invited to bring the X-Ray Audio project to Russia.

From August 14th to October 5th 2017 we will be exhibiting at GARAGE Museum of Contemporary Art in Gorky Park. In addition to the exhibition there will a program of live events including an X- Ray Cabaret a round table discussion on Forbidden Culture and a short film program.

Read More HERE

Проект X-RAY AUDIO в Музее современного искусства «Гараж»

Мы очень рады, что наш проект X-Ray Audio пригласили в Россию.

 С 14 августа по 5 октября 2017 в Музее «Гараж» в Парке Горького пройдёт выставка «Музыка на костях». В рамках выставки также состоится серия мероприятий: X-Ray Cabaret, круглый стол «Запрещённая культура» и кинофестиваль.

Надеемся, что вы сможете к нам присоединиться.

Русская версия ниже


Since the beginning of the project, we have benefitted from a lot of media interest. That has been really helpful - it gave us the motivation to keep going in what is fundamentally a labour of love plus it has opened many opportunites for the project exhibition and live events.


Most recently, there have been major features in international media including Garage, Frieze and National Geographic magazines - with more to come.  Thanks to all who have shown an interest - we appreciate that.



X-RAY AUDIO in Berlin

We wil be live at the HOUSE OF CULTURE in Berlin as part for the FREE! Music festival on Sunday April 9th:

"Stephen Coates tells the incredible story of soviet bootleggers who cut forbidden music onto used X-ray plates during the Cold War. Sound artist Aleks Kolkowski cuts a fresh X-ray bootleg live."

We are very pleased to be working with the Berlin electronic musical artist GUIDO MOBIUS  to make a recording onto X-Ray



There is a major feature on X-Ray Audio in the new edition of Garage magazine published by the Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art.

It contains exclusive images and interview extracts. If you download the magazine's special app , there are two amazing three dimensional animations of x-ray discs.

ROENTGENIZDAT - The X-Ray Audio Documentary

Our full length documentary 'Roentgenizdat - Bone Music' premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in London. It was awarded the Best Documentary Feature at the Russian Film Festival in London in October 2016 and was part of a major exposition at Trieste Film festival in January2017. It is currently showing at various festivals throughout 2017 including the COURAGE FILM FESTIVAL

"Leningrad 1946, the Cold War: All culture is subject to the brutal control of a totalitarian state censor. But music-mad bootleggers devise an incredible and risky way to listen to and share the music they love, copying forbidden songs onto used X-ray film and creating their own records."

It features new interviews with Marc Almond, Artyemi Troistky and Stephen Coates, Soviet era x-ray Bootleggers and extraordinary archive footage telling the story of one of the strangest eras in vinyl, music, forbidden culture and cold war history.

With the trailer here:


The X-Ray Audio documentary ‘Roentgenizdat’ was awarded the best documentary award at the Russian film festival in London. It premiered at the Raindance festival in September and has been getting rave reviews.

It will next be shown at the  28th Trieste Film Festival on 21st January 2017 when it will be accompanied by an X-Ray Audio exhibition of original bone disc, films, sounds, ephemera and images

The screening  will be followed by a live event with Q+A and live x-ray cutting from a very special musical performance by a guest star performer.

For more details go HERE

Other dates to follow.


Stephen Coates wil be discussing the cold war Soviet X-Ray bootleggers at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London on November 12th as part of an event of forbidden culture.

The event is "VHS in Off-World / Film Dubbing as Subversion" with Irina Margareta Nistor

"Between 1984-89 in the apartments of tower blocks in Bucharest, capital of a sequestered communist Romania, thousands of pirated videocassettes of forbidden films from the West were screened illegally. The disorientating foreignness of these technicoloured, ideology-busting films were tempered by the voice of Irina Margareta Nistor, who frequently skirted exposure and arrest by Nicolae Ceausescu's dreaded Securitate whilst defiantly translating and dubbing the films into Romanian. In this unique event, Nistor joins curator/serial digressionist David Ellis for audio-visual essays and a discussion of forbidden culture, incorporating the screening of original VHS material, illustrative slides, plus 'live' dubbing and a Q&A in a homage to this lesser-known heroine of cinema."


Alice Nicolov has written a very considered piece on X-Ray Audio for DAZED 

“People tend to tell this story as one of Russian hipsters breaking the system by pirating Western music. Well, that's just not accurate at all.”

Stephen Coates is explaining the remarkable story behind his X-Ray Audio Project. Coates, a musician who’s been performing in Russia for ten years with his band The Real Tuesday Weld, four years ago stumbled across what he thought was a vinyl-type disc cut onto an x-ray in a St. Petersburg flea market.,"


We wil be at the KRAKE FESTIVAL in Berlin on July 27th.

Stephen Coates will be telling the history of the Soviet x-ray records and Aleks Kolkowski will make a live demonstration of x-ray cutting with a performance by very special guest ALEXANDER HACKE.  

More details on Facebook  HERE

For German speakers there have been two recent pieces on the x-ray audio project in the German Media:



We are hoping to be back in Berlin on November 17th for a major exhibition at the Musik / Tanz Theater.


The X-Ray Audio documentary will be screening at the Poolinale Music Film Festival in Vienna on April 16th. The screening will be followed b a question and answers interview with Stephen Coates and Paul Heartfield.

Details are HERE