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In Review: Guy Buttery & Shane Cooper at Café Roux

An outstanding collaboration amongst two of South Africa’s finest instrumental wizards.

15 Mar 2017 / Opinion / written by Marike Watson / Pics by Leigh Groenemeyer

In the quaint setting of Noordhoek’s Café Roux, instrumental masters Guy Buttery and Shane Cooper performed in collaborative standing to an audience deeply enchanted by the heartfelt and compelling union of guitar and double bass.

“After years I’ve finally convinced Shane to do this with me,” Buttery says as their performance’s introductory track still lingers faintly over us. Cooper remains poised alongside Buttery, animated and stirred only as he plays each note following the arrangements practised. Buttery continues to humour the crowd, offering witticisms here and there as he tells small anecdotes of select songs in charismatic fashion. “Just going to quickly up the testosterone levels in this room,” he announces as he polishes his nails briefly before returning to the task at play.

Old and new tunes filter into the evening’s sonic voyage as the compositions chosen travel uniquely in a form of their own. ‘Burnside,’ ‘Sleep Deprivation,’ and a track simply named by a list of notes, are recreated, as the audience steadily watches both Buttery and Cooper immerse themselves wholeheartedly in the very emotion of every minute.

“This was written for a string quartet, but luckily Shane does all the noises,” Buttery asserts with a grin as the two proceed to elevate the marriage of player and instrument played beyond poetic measure. Cooper picks at the strings beneath his double bass’ bridge and so the detail that no section of either instrument is left unaccounted for is cemented. It transpires so effortlessly that one almost doesn’t notice the skilful manipulation and technical effects experimented with (a simple pedal, varying pinch harmonics, an EBow, and even a business card) that allow Buttery and Cooper to transgress genres throughout the duration of their act.

The central departing feature of this evening however, and perhaps the feature that affected the audience most, was the responses of these two musicians upon their collaboration itself that signalled from its commencement an unparalleled extent of joy. With eyes mostly closed and faces stern with concentration, interchanging waves of discord and harmony all danced across the room as Buttery and Cooper persistently and sincerely illustrated a sense of music where every melody was felt as much as it was heard.

Nearing the final stretch of their act is a tune that “sounds quite like Led Zep according to Shane,” Buttery admits, denoting ever so slightly how one may agreeably recognise former eras of sound in their own. Tempo is challenged and a peak of transcendence is now encountered as the colourful connection of guitar and bass solidify the calibre and incalculable dexterity of the two instrumentalists and their merging. It’s a proverbial match made in heaven as the ultimate partnering of Buttery and Cooper mesmerised those in attendance with overtones lingering forth yet again as their final farewell met the cold and quiet night sky.

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Check out our exclusive gallery of this event below.