MUSIC ON BONES

Packaging / Product Development
Identity / Editorial

An album box-set of "Music on Bones" - records pressed onto x-rays celebrating the dissident
actions of the audiophiles of the Soviet Union.

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What would you do for music? Would you spend all your savings on a pair of expensive headphones for great sound? Would you endanger the life of your computer for a suspicious LimeWire download? Would you risk your own life? 

Music on Bones is a box set celebrating the ‘Bone Music’ of the Soviet Union, and the strong, colorful people who inspired it. 

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ORIGINS

During the mid-20th century, producing, performing, and listening to Western and Western-style music was forbidden. Undeterred, audiophiles risked everything to listen to the music they loved, creating an underground bootlegging movement that would put today’s YouTube Audio Rippers to shame. Many Bone Music listeners were part of the 'Stilyagi' counterculture movement known for their Western-inspired outfits and hair. Since vinyl was scarce, these music lovers would etch sound into discarded x-rays from the local hospitals, distributing these improvised records in secret.

Boris Taigin and Ruslan Bogoslovski, two of the original bootleggers, faced fines and lengthy stints in the gulag to create and distribute this music. Today, they represent Boris & Ruslan, the record company producing the Music on Bones box set. 

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The Music on Bones Box set includes 3 albums with 12 multi-colored records, and an Ephemera album including a 'Samizdat' zine about the history of Bone Music and the Stilyagi, a record weight, 3 lyric books, stickers, and a Certificate of Nonconformity certifying the limited edition box set.  

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For the Stilyagi youth, color was synonymous with the vitality
of the music they adored and so they often dressed in bright, clashing hues. As a nod to the Stilyagi, Music on Bones emphasizes a candy-colored palette that reflects their incredible style. The albums feature a gritty graphic texture, visually representing the grainy sound of the bone records. 

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The primary typeface used is Korolev, developed by Rian Hughes, and inspired by an ‘anonymous alphabet seen in photos of the Red Square Parades”. Reflecting the voices of the Soviet Union in accordance with, and in opposition to the Stilyagi color was integral to the overall design. The anonymous alphabet that inspired this typeface also reflects the anonymous voices of many Soviet musical artists. 

These words are taken from Pravda, a Soviet newspaper, and other state sponsored sources, reflecting government propaganda condemning this music. The absurdity of these sentiments is highlighted in the colors of those who dared to dance. The quote above is one such quote, and was directed at the Beatles.

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Want to listen to some Bone Music? My favorite track is “Big Guitar.” The singer of this tune is not known, but I like to imagine him performing in wild Stilyagi style to a crowd of his peers in one of the underground clubs where Bone Music was once played. *

The grainy quality of the recording reflects the natural degradation of the bootleg records. The vinyl of these X-rays is much thinner than traditional vinyl records, so repeated spins under the needle mean that the material (and therefore the sound) breaks down. 

* All credit to the wonderful X-Ray Audio Project by The Bureau of Lost Culture who digitized this recording and is doing great things to preserve the legacy of Bone Music for future generations.