East Village Noise Musicians Go West, But First: Two Weeks on Avenue C

stoneRay Lemoine The Stone

When Hospital Productions closed its record store on East Third Street in December, the East Village’s avant-garde, noise, and experimental music scene continued to shrink (remember the days when Downtown Music Gallery was located on the Bowery? or when the Knitting Factory was on Houston Street?). As it turns out, Hospital’s founder, Dominick Fernow, is headed west, but he’s making a slight return this month, as curator of a two-week series of performances at The Stone on Avenue C.

Mr. Fernow, who will continue to run Hospital Records as a music label specializing in progressive noise, ambient, and metal music, told The Local that he closed his five-year-old record shop because he and Wesley Eisold, his bandmate in Cold Cave, were moving to Hollywood. Becka Diamond, an “it” girl who DJs at Cold Cave shows, also headed west. Despite regular gigs spinning outré music at venues like The Standard’s rooftop club, she left town – for no real reason, she said, save boredom with New York.

“It’s the same scene,” she said. “We just live out here now.”

GibbyryanCourtesy Dais Records Left to right: Gibby Miller and Ryan Martin

The Cold Cave crew isn’t the first of its ilk to gravitate toward the West Coast. Gibby Miller, the co-founder of Dais Records, lived above Lit when the Second Avenue bar first opened in 2002. As the rock club’s house D.J. and a roommate of its owner, Erik Foss, he was the embodiment of the neck-tattooed post-punk Brit-Mod scenester. Back then, Mr. Miller also DJed at Openair, a since-closed, then-futuristic lounge on St. Marks Place. There, minimalist techno was being defined by artists like Magda, Richie Hawtin, Plexus, and Troy Pierce, some of whom later went on to Euro stardom.

Mr. Miller left for Los Angeles in 2004 and started Dais in 2007. With artists like Iceage and Psychic TV in its catalog, the label shares an edgy, free-form sensibility with Hospital Productions. But Dais isn’t exactly proof that L.A. is the new cradle of the avant garde. The label also keeps roots in New York City: its co-founder Ryan Martin still lives here (in Greenpoint), as do some of its artists. Dais recently released an album by Mr. Fernow’s other band, Prurient, as well as a solo album by local author and musician Anthony Pappalardo.

anthonyJonathan Hokklo Anthony Pappalardo

Mr. Pappalardo said that his “Bells of Spring” E.P., released under the name Italian Horn, took form in the East Village. “I started recording while living on East 14th Street,” he said, going on to explain, “I work better with limitations, and in a smaller place, with weird acoustics. I just took classic song structures and added layers.”

Jim Siegal, the former manager of Hospital’s record shop, said, “New York is still the most vital place for experimental music.”

While Mr. Fernow tours with Cold Cave, Mr. Siegel will oversee a series of 24 sets at The Stone, a genre-defying venue that itself is proof of the scene’s vitality here. He said the series, which starts tonight, will feature “the best music from the label and extended family,” from the power electronics of FFH, to the multimedia experimentation of Yellow Tears, to the ghostly ambient music of Lussuria. The full lineup can be found here.

“The East Village still is the hub for avant music – noise, techno, ambient, indie,” said Greg Brier, a veteran nightclub operator. “L.A. will never take over. You’ll see this stuff moving to places like Gowanus, Bushwick, and even Rockaway, but it’s New York music that moved to L.A., not the other way around.”

And, after all, we still have Philip Glass.