Review

Nibs van der Spuy and Guy Buttery join forces again for a gorgeously transcendent instrumental album: Live in Lisbon

When Nibs van der Spuy and Guy Buttery first teamed up in 2012 for their collective debut, In The Shade of the Wild Fig, it was critically acclaimed and scored a SAMA nomination. But despite the fact they have regularly contributed to one another’s work over the last eight years, it’s only now that they finally delivered their second full-length release to the world – Live in Lisbon.

The title is self-evident. The album was recorded in Belém, just outside the Portuguese capital at the end of 2019. It’s a sweeping 11-track instrumental exploration of both the musician’s styles – and while each track bleeds effervescently into the other, their supposed similarities are part of the beauty of the album. It’s one long, atmospheric and emotive musical journey.

Their distinct styles blend and combust together. I’ve always felt not enough praise is lavished on bare, finger-picked guitar. We tend to forget how complex an instrument it is, but both Buttery and van der Spuy are quick to remind us.

Opener “In The Shade of the Wild Fig” is testimony to where they began and lifted off Buttery’s 2016 album. “Pai” and “Trambicosa” are straight off that original album – while the deft composition of “Two Chords & The Truth”, and the kalimba-infused “Vasco Encontra Adamasto no Cabo dos Tormentos” bring fresh air into the mix.

There’s even a touch of vocals in “Trample on Lions” – a roaring, Eastern-African ode to running wild – and with a beautiful deftness, Buttery and van der Spuy deliver a transcendent performance of unique instrumentalism.