The X-Ray Audio Project

"They are images of pain and damage overlaid with the sounds of pleasure, fragile photographs of the interiors of Soviet citizens inscribed with the music they secretly loved"

THE X-RAY AUDIO PROJECT is devoted to the underground community of music lovers and bootleggers who defied the censor in cold-war Soviet Union to make and distribute their own recordings of forbidden music.

In an era when the recording industry was ruthlessly controlled by the State, they found an incredible risky means to do so - they built their own recording machines and used repurposed X Ray plates as the base for strange beautiful discs they sold secretly.

It was an act of street enterprise. cultural resistance, technical ingenuity and human endeavour.

image: paul heartfield

The Bureau of Lost Culture tells this amazing  story with an online archive, a book, an award-winning documentary, live events and a major travelling exhibition. The project is supported by Arts Council England and has received a large amount of PRESS and media coverage.

Go HERE to see images from our exhibition

Go HERE to watch our TED talk and other films about bone music and the Soviet x-ray bootleggers 

Go HERE to see and hear images and sounds of  Bones discs 

Bones Discs-5059.jpg

Follow the links above for our BONE BLOG, NEWS, EVENTS and more.

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We came across and began to research this story in travels to Russia over the last few years.  For a musician and a photographer and lovers of all things vinyl and cold war, we knew we had to tell it.  As well as the story of strange, ghostly flexi discs, it is a story of how much music can matter. Thanks to all those who have helped us, supported us, provided us with images, sounds and stories.


If you have stories to tell or discs that we can include in the X-Ray audio Project, please get in touch


The Bureau of Lost Culture are Stephen Coates and Paul Heartfield. They are dedicated to recollecting counter-cultural stories through film, installations and broadcasts. By evoking the spirit of the forgotten underground they aim to inspire with a sense of risk and provocation.

STEPHEN COATES, is a composer, writer and music producerHe came across the subject of the X-Ray recordings when travelling to Russia to perform as The Real Tuesday Weld over the last six years. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, he is particularly interested in the interaction between music and culture.

He has been researching and interviewing the story of the X-Ray recordings in Russia researching as part of a series of projects on Soviet musical history.

For more on Stephen go here

PAUL HEARTFIELD is one of London's most experienced and respected portraitists. He has worked extensively in the music industry, photographing many international bands and musicians over the last decade. 

He is the regular portrait and archive photographer for the Houses of Commons and Lords in Westminster and has photographed most of the senior British politicians of the last few years.

For more on Paul go here


For assistance, contributions, support and expertise we’d like to thank: Aleks Kolkowski, Maxim Kravchinskij, Rudolf Fuchs, Artemyi Troitsky, Maxim Kravchinskij, Galina Shtanko, Nick Markovitch,  Alex Budovsky, Sergey Chernov, Sergey Korsakov, Marina Tsurtsumia, Laysan Gilmanova, Nix Stewart, Irene and Andrey, Nicola Stewart, the UK Arts Council. 

For generous permission to use images and recordings: Aleksandr Khrisanov, Alexandr Moskalenko, Anatoly B, Andrei Arntgolts, Andrei Minkin, Ilya Shirokiy, Justinas  Shimkauskas, Nickolay Markovich  Kurganoff, Sergey Stavitsky, Valeriy, Yuri Bernikov  Yuriy Boyarintsev, Yuriy Gladkov, Gregory Kachurin


All images and texts copyright X-RAY AUDIO/ BUREAU OF LOST CULURE 2019

Rights to all text, materials, images and recordings remain with their respective owners and must not be copied, reproduced or re-posted without permission.