Our humble attempt at English translation of Alexander Kushnir’s book 100 Магнитоальбомов Советского Рока (100 Tape Albums of Soviet Rock) (subtitled “1977-1991: 15 Years of Underground Sound Recording / 1977-1991 – 15 лет подпольной звукозаписи”). Thanks to everyone supportive of this venture.
First of all, what the hell is the магнитоальбом mentioned in the original title of the book? To put it simply – it’s a magnetic tape. In the Soviet Union rock music was a) largely forbidden for its (presumably) rebellious nature and hence had no way to be recorded officially and distributed on vinyl (Аквариум [Aquarium]’s Равноденствие being one of the most important exclusions) b) not known by the majority of population.
It was recorded mainly on four-tracks “studios” by musicians themselves or with a helping hand of sound-engineers of that time (such as Andrey Tropillo – 2002’s English interview with him is available). – Vladimir Toss / mirddin
Archives/previous chapters can be found here.
By now the magnetic recording of sound reached perfection and it successfully competes with mechanical and photographic systems of sound recording, and in many ways even surpasses them. For purposes of magnetic recording and sound reproduction a device called magnetophon is employed.
From the book “Magnetic Sound Recording”. 1979
We record anything – anywhere – anytime.
Writing at the entrance to Memphis studio in which Elvis Presley recorded his first “sound letter”. 1953
In the beginning of 60s, at the very center of Moscow, not far from “Russian Wines” store, opened a recording studio. “Photography” inscription adorning the building’s entrance could only fool the passerby. The experienced and enlightened folks heading up the narrow stairs to the second floor knew where they were going and why. Underneath the innocent marquee “sound letter” there, far away from city bustle and the prying eyes of city visitors, sheltered itself a cradle of Soviet rock sound recording.
Said cradle looked like a photo lab and was a small room which was as quiet as Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Heavy and dark curtains on the windows completely fenced off this oasis from the outside world.
Man with a menacing glare and a tie (who went by “Uncle Zhenya”) was an owner of a real studio magnetophon. Today its impossible to recall the last name of uncle Zhenya and same goes for the brand of magnetophon. For ordinary clients he recorded sonic letter-greetings in his studio. For trusted clients on his own and under the table he recorded “rock-n-rolls” of Presley and early Okudzhava, and later – street songs of Vysotsky and the controversial twist “Beauty Queen” performed by Muslim Magomayev.