Good Health was recorded in London in late October of 2018 as part of a week-long residency at the Averard Hotel with Slate Projects.
despite being surrounded by more people any of us where used to in Glasgow, we spent a week of isolation in this place, deprived of proper meals, regular sleep or washing. This was due to the amount of us, how broke we are, and the nature of the averard. It is situated within one of the most affluent areas in London, just a stones throw from Lancaster gate. We were surrounded by hotels where a single night would cost near a months rent in Glasgow, ATM’s where the minimum to take out was in the same ballpark, and shops and restaurants that were uncomfortably expensive. This is all within stark contrast to the averard as, while on the outside it was as pristine as any of the other buildings, with a clean white finish and its name displayed in big lettering to the rear of the building, the inside was completely abandoned and dilapidated. It was clearly once as grand as the exterior would imply, but years of abandon had worn it down to its barebones, with only the first two floors being safe to walk on, paint being worn from the walls, nothing but floorboards and cracked tiles. Yes despite this, there was still an air of grandeur, or history perhaps. The hallway is vast, a room opposite’s walls being entirely mirrored, along with the wall up the grand staircase. The windows were large enough that the place was completely bathed in natural light during the day, and the ever present orange glow of the street lamps during the night. In every corner, part of the ceiling, tiles, there was always a half broken, worn down, but beautiful ornate feature of some kind, some with its gold paint still clinging on despite signs of it flaking. Throughout all of the endless corridors, side rooms, staircases, you would always find a new area of the building, with a detail worth noticing, or one that you couldn’t avoid. The bathroom was in the ‘dungeon’ (the basement of the building), which to get to, you had to develop a strong resistance to a fear of the dark, as any torch would barely be enough to properly penetrate once all of the countless halogen lights scattered around the place were switched off for the night. I think all made sure to have a strong sense of footing and spacial memory less we piss ourselves.
The averard is essentially a space which has been converted to an art gallery and creative space. Run by Alex Meurice, despite being a stronghold within the London arts scene, from what I know it operated very much outside of any of its organisations, acting as its own thing entirely. While we were there there was another project going on, so throughout all of these rooms, were abstract paintings, sculptures, the mirrored room had a mass of black charcoal coating the floor for a piece of performance art. We had to be careful to not disturb any of these pieces, especially during he evening, where it could sometimes be difficult to judge the space around you.
On the two occasions I have worked there, I had a weird sense, and perhaps its due to all of the mirrors around the place, the disorienting sense of light, space, all of the half open doors, ‘did you hear that?’s, creaking floorboards or sound of pub goers from outside, but that there was a feeling of being watched or followed. This was near omnipresent, though it is just a trick of the place.
The recording of the album was an incredibly stressful, yet gratifying process. Counting travel time, we only really had five days to record the whole album, along with playing a gig in the space one evening, the days were incredibly long. Due to these time limitations, the album was recorded in a somewhat unorthodox way. It’s ’sort of’ a live album, apart from the drums, we recorded all in the same room, ‘the ballroom’, at the same time. Though, we did many takes of each section, only half referring to the demos and notes we had for what the songs were. For the most part, we were free to improvise, relying on instinct, we let ideas run wild with extending sections, inflections, structure. I made the decision for us to not record to a click track, meaning that we were playing to each others tempo. The album was the ‘assembled’ in the editing, treating each take that we did for a particular song as a found sound of sorts. Some of the structures remained somewhat similar, with some sections being looped, extended, things being copied and pasted etc. I like to think that we straddled a line between the two, I think that we retained a very live and emotionally raw tone for the album with our performances going from contained to manic quite frequently, while using this editing process to see what pieces of that performance fit together.
our performances were very much informed by our environment. Because we were all stuck with each other for a stressful week, we got to know each other far better than before, which allowed space for us to both grow more fond, and more annoyed with each other, thankfully the former prevailed. Twice when recording drums, some debris from the roof fell on the kit (i actually think that take made it into the album). As Alex was soon to finish his lease on the building, there were occasionally estate agents in pristine suites walking around the building, with little regard for us recording. Really, I think they were shocked to see this dishevelled group of young people, looking as tired as we were, intently focusing on whatever it was that we were doing.