A project by Stephen Coates, composer, researcher and music producer; andPaul Heartfield, one of London’s most experienced and respected portrait photographers; together they form the Bureau of Lost Culture at the University of the Underground. They are dedicated to recollecting counter-cultural stories. By evoking the spirit of the forgotten underground they aim to inspire with a sense of risk and provocation. The X-Ray audio project tells a story of cold war culture, bootleg technology, music as resistance and human endeavour.

In the Soviet Union during the cold war era, the music people could listen to was ruthlessly controlled by the State.  A huge amount of songs, both Western and Russian, became banned for ideological reasons but a daring underground community of bootleggers found an extraordinary and risky means to defy the sensor.  They built their own recording machines and cut their own records of the forbidden jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and Russian music they loved – onto used x-ray film.

The Bureau of Lost Culture has been researching their story and the unique records they made for the last four years, producing a book, an award-winning documentary and an internationally touring exhibition that has received extensive international media and broadcast attention including major features in the UK, the Russian Federation, Israel, the US and Europe.   

At live events they tell the story of the Soviet bootleggers and demonstrate the technique of capturing music onto x-ray, working with live musicians including Thorsten Moore (Sonic Youth), Marc Almond, Barry Adamson, Veronika Harcsa and Lydia Kavina.

See: www.x-rayaudio.com