Opinion Review

Guy Buttery: Guy Buttery

In a collection of sweeping musical landscapes, Guy Buttery returns with his fifth album: a self titled, 10-track project brimming with notable collaborations and a unique blend of cultural influences, deftly handled.

Considered something of a national treasure, Buttery’s music has spread far beyond our borders, earning him the unique opportunity of performing alongside the likes of Dave Matthews and The Violent Femmes, as well as a vast number of others. Released on both vinyl and CD, the cover depicts a collection we can only assume have either served as influence on the album, or relate directly to Buttery himself: a pack of Indian incense, a selection of keys, a drivers’ licence and a kalimba.

The opening track, ‘Werner Meets Egberto in Hermaus’ which features national icon Vusi Mahlasela, boasts a brief, striking intro of the umuduri – a traditional African instrument consisting of a wooden bow with a gourd attached to the lower end, the string is then played with a textured stick, producing a distinct, hollow sound. This rapidly gives way to swift, percussive finger-style guitar work, which gradually builds upon itself with a somewhat off kilter beat featuring a varied array of acoustic techniques. Mahlasela’s vocals make intermittent, striking appearances, maintaining the strong African influences the song is so steeped in.

A curious ebb and flow of an intro invites ‘Floop (feat. Chris Letcher)’ into play. Drawing on eighties style synth work, little heard from Buttery before, the track is a delightfully tasty little morsel. An ambient blend of electronic stylings, shakers, and the strongly traditional African sound of the kalimba are all tied deftly together by a prevailing acoustic guitar progression. ‘In the Shade of the Wild’ is soaked and dripping in eerie, psycadelic synths, while ‘From Srinagar’, true to its name, is a heady, spicy blend of North Indian sound. The sitar rubs shoulders with the kalimba as well as Buttery’s guitar work, once again blurring cultural barriers in his music.

Multi Grammy award winner, Will Ackerman is featured in the gentle, almost hesitant sound of ‘A Piece for Rudolf Fritsch’, while fellow South African acoustic hero Dan Patlansky lends a hand in the striking track which is ‘To Goulimine’. Possibly the best track on the album, the song builds upon the pattering raindrop-esque guitar work of the intro to produce a hearty, rollicking track just bordering on a rock piece. An incredible collection of songs from one of the best musicians in the country, Guy Buttery has proven he is not slowing down any time soon.

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Listen to “Guy Buttery” below.