Cult underground Salford nightclub the White Hotel are, after four years in operation, branching out to release their first record on their own imprint – TWH001.
Bomb Sniffing Dogs are the enigmatic musical collective behind the first release, ‘Word Wall 2’, which is a two-part spoken word electronica piece. Bomb Sniffing Dogs are the writer Austin Collings, Wirral group ‘By the Sea’ and former Fall member Elena Polou (more on which shortly).
The White Hotel itself is a cult underground Salford club described by VICE as “the most exciting place to part in the UK right now”, even being discussed on BBC Radio 4 this year as part of the station’s New Weird Britain series.
Quite apart from their usual roster of illicit techno, new bands and noise music, the venue has carved out an unusual role as a nexus of bizarre, almost situationist, events. Last year, they staged a re-enactment of the funeral of Princess Diana, whilst on October 31st this year a tongue-in-cheek ‘Festival of Great Britain (and Northern Ireland)’ is being held to celebrate the Brexit deadline (complete with tug of war, bunting making workshop, a Morrissey impersonator and the rumoured appearance of a real life donkey).
As for ‘Word Wall 2’ itself, on first glance the track appears a psycho-geographical examination of the edgelands that surround the White Hotel – the nightclub existing in the shadow of Strangeways’ high security mens’ prison. Fragments of conversation seemingly from the club’s door itself appear on the track - “No ID, no idea. Ends midnight. I can’t let you in looking like that. You must go home and change...”
The track soon reveals itself to be a moving reflection on loss and memory, and the lives left behind. Collings – part of the management team behind the White Hotel – in 2008 co-wrote Mark E Smith’s memoir ‘Renegade’, and it was through this that he met Elena Polou. Polou was then Smith’s wife, and one of the longest serving Fall members; her appearance (offering synths and narration) mark her first release since Smith’s passing in 2018.
The B-Side of the release is ‘THE ONE SHOW’, a rumination on the Saddleworth Moor fires, which blazed for three weeks across the summer of 2018 on the moors between Manchester and Sheffield.
Asked to comment on the release, the White Hotel offered enigmatically: “Those who are gone keep wandering through our words. One day I remember writing the word memory on a wall but I quit after the first two letters because that’s ME. Memory is a form of resurrection.”
‘Word Wall 2’ will be released on ‘blood-stained’ white vinyl encased in a white slip plus booklet and postcards. Given the White Hotel’s reputation for the unusual, unexpected and often unwanted, it will be interesting to watch the releases that begin to trickle out of the Salford warehouse.
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Words: Fergal Kinney // @fergal_41
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