Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Gary in beautiful Switzerland! Click on a photo to enlarge

Greetings gang, I am writing this after a superb evening meal at my guitar buddy Gerald Zbinden's cosy chalet about an hour outside Geneva and about 1000 meters up a mountain, with an incredible view of the Swiss Alps and the nearby city of Gruyere out the window (yes, that Gruyere, where the delicious soft cheese originates). I am here at Gerald's invitation to record a free improvisational "dueling guitars" type of album -- we first locked horns at the SKIF Festival in St. Petersburg last spring. Today we laid down some very cool tracks that were spontaneous, totally off the cuff voyages into deepest space in the extremely user friendly studio Artefax in Lausanne, about an hour down the road apiece, and we have another 4 days of recording and mixing ahead of us. Gerald is a very adept guitarist who is a mainstay of the Swiss avant-garde scene and like me is not averse to a little sound modification in the form of multitudinous black boxes...

Yesterday I was met by Gerald at Geneva Airport at 9am after a fairly smooth flight from JFK on Swiss Airlines (formerly Swissair, until they went chapter 11 after 9/11 and reorganized), met his lovely wife, napped and then was off for a very scenic drive up to the medieval city of Gruyere, perched halfway up the adjoining mountain, after a lunch of (naturally) bread and Gruyere (yes, I've gone native)...Gruyere the village is also the home of H.R. Giger's museum (the crazy artist and sculptor behind the Alien monster, Debby Harry's "KooKoo" album cover, I'm sure you've heard the name/seen his work...) and the adjoining Giger bar, which looks like the bar out of the original Star Wars film, with chairs resembling the exoskeletons of various alien vertebrates, a truly fantastic decor designed by Giger (pronounced Geeger) himself that is almost as cool as a certain bar in St. Petersburg whose name escapes me right now, well, let's just say as cool as Le Lapin Agile in Montmartre...anyway we got a Japanese tourist to take a photo of the two of us in the Giger Bar which I am downloading to webmistress Tanya in hopes she can put it up with this blog, still trying to get the hang of this blogger thingy...note the protruding "howling babies" bas-relief in the wall behind us.

Gary and Gerald Zbinden in the H.R. Giger Bar, Gruyere Switzerland, 11/16/04
Click on a photo to enlarge

We then strolled around the old cathedral up the hill a ways and clocked the spectacular view...Switzerland is just too beautiful, always does it for me, I have very fond memories of solo and band gigs in Zurich, Lucerene, Neuchatel, Chaux de Fonds, Bern, Basel et al over the years and it's always a gas to come back here (only sore spot so far was a surly steward on the flight out who would not help me stow away my steel guitar in the overhead, and muttered a sarcastic "I'm Swiss, not AMERICAN", which to me implied that in his worldview Swiss people would not deign to help Americans, these days (!)...I gave him the hardest of stares and a quick "and which charm school did YOU graduate from?"

other than that, it has been a lovely trip so far...



Anonymous Les Barany said...

Dear Gary,

The Giger Museum and the Giger Bar in Gruyeres are truly a wonderous experience, in ways that only people who have been there could truly understand.
You missed running into Giger by a day,
he visits on Thursdays, but I do see a Face-Hugger in your future.

Giger loves jazz, he tinkers on the baby grand you may have seen in the room where he displays his private art collection. Among his favorite films are the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Golem, and one of his favorite authors is Gustav Meyrink. You'd have a lot to talk about. Let me know when you plan to return to Switzerland.
Keep on strumming!

Les Barany

3/16/2005 8:05 PM  

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