New York City’s East Village became a little less interesting on December 1st, 2011. It wasn’t because another herd of uptown trust-funders overran a tenement building on Avenue D or anything. It’s because another record store shut its doors—Hospital Productions.
Hospital was a store like no other in this city, selling a wide-range of fringe music and sound-art from a variety of genres. Established by Dominick Fernow as an extension of his home-spun record label bearing the same name in 2006, Hospital’s early life as a retail outlet was spent in the basement of Jammyland—a record store specializing in dub and reggae. In those days, you’d walk down the aisle of Jammyland while the clerk eyed you suspiciously until you hit an almost totally vertical ladder to descend into Fernow’s foxhole filled with noise, black metal and experimental cassettes, LPs and CDs. Jammyland eventually left, and Hospital ascended from the basement and took over the ground level storefront at 60 East 3rd Street.
In addition to being the go-to location for getting the newest transmissions from Fernow’s label, Hospital disseminated marginalized works from countless local projects and labels as well as releases from around the world. It was a rare to see more than two or three people in Hospital at the same time (unless there was an in-store performance from the likes of Aaron Dilloway or local noise unit K.P.). But when you did encounter another customer, a bond was nearly always made, be it after talking about a shared interest in this hated music lining the blood-red walls or some basement show you both survived.
Fernow hasn’t made any public statements about his decision to shut the store down and I’m not sure it matters. Hospital Productions continues as a label and has just issued its 300th release: the sprawling double-cassette compilation, White Eye of Winter Watching. Featuring a cast of performers spanning eras, countries, and disciplines, including local favorites Alberich, Lussuria, Yellow Tears and Fernow’s Prurient and Vatican Shadow projects, as well as legendary sound-subverters Ramleh, Controlled Bleeding, The Haters, Emil Beaulieau and hordes of others, White Eye of Winter Watching is another crucial document from Hospital Productions.
All in-print Hospital releases are available for mailorder through their website and some out-of-print titles have begun to be sold digitally as well; more information can be found here.