AFRICAN FOLK? ACOUSTIC-AMBIENT? NEW AGE? WORLD FUSION? IT’S ALL GUY BUTTERY
World-celebrated South African musical virtuoso Guy Buttery returns with a brand new approach and unique musical vision on his latest acoustic-guitar-based album, simply titled Guy Buttery, which seamlessly merges elements of melodic-instrumental, world-fusion, African folk and avant-garde with ambient and groove-driven psychedelia.
More information on Guy Buttery is available at his website (guybuttery.co. za). His music is available at online sales sites such as iTunes, Amazon.com, Bandcamp, eMusic, Rhapsody and many others. The album is available as a download, CD and limited-edition vinyl.
A multi-award-winning musician and acclaimed acoustic guitarist worldwide, Buttery continues to bring a deep sense of universal musical understanding into his compositions. His music is delicate, yet fierce; profoundly deliberate, yet with playful moments of spontaneity; beautifully-melodic one moment and meditatively-ambient at other times.
The music is rootsy, organic, home-grown, mostly acoustic and joyous. The earthiness comes from Buttery’s background -- he was born and raised in a small coastal town along the North Coast of South Africa in the province of KwaZulu-Natal where lush fertile fields of sugar cane meet the sparkling turquoise of the Indian Ocean.
Furthering his closeness to nature, Buttery decided the recording sessions for this album should take place in a small, secluded farmhouse in Zululand. Word spread to many of his musical friends who dropped by to contribute.
With doors and windows open to the breeze, other sounds joined in and you may hear the occasional owl or cicada in the background. The recording spotlights Buttery on acoustic guitars, mbira (African thumb piano) and acoustic generated ambient textures.
In addition, he collaborates with some of South Africa’s finest musicians including Vusi Mahlasela (non-verbal vocalizations), Dan Patlansky (electric guitar), Nibs Van Der Spuy (cuatro, acoustic and electric guitars), Shane Cooper (acoustic bass), Derek Gripper (classical guitar), Gareth Gale (drums), Chris Letcher (wurlitzer and organ) and Qadasi (umhupe mouth bow and concertina).
Also involved are artists from other countries, Lorenzo Mantovani on the Indian sarangi and specifically Piers Faccini on background vocals as well as one of Guy’s lifelong heroes, Will Ackerman from Windham Hill Records, on acoustic guitars.
“Working with all these first-rate musicians was a dream come true and a career highlight,” Guy says. “For me the record speaks of a different South Africa -- one that acknowledges tradition but is more interested in individualism and finding a new voice to tell that story,” states Buttery.
Having spent a great deal of time in the African outdoors during the composition process, Guy allowed the environment to seep into his creations. Nature holds a big place in his heart and the space of adventure, exploration and freedom affected his music deeply, pushing his exploration even further.
“For as long as I can remember I’ve been sneaking into farmlands and forests, climbing trees, and building platforms and dwellings among the tree-tops for birding and tea festivities. The farm where we recorded has about 160 hectares of indigenous sub-tropical forest, and after six years of snooping around there, I made contact with the landowner and rented the old house,” Buttery explains.
“Between sessions we’d be hiking, swimming, spotting Turacos [tropical birds] or playing frisbee.” The Guy Buttery album begins with “Werner Meets Egberto in Manaus” which Buttery calls “a fictional tale about Brazilian guitarist Egberto Gismonti having a chance meeting in the Amazon with German film-maker Werner Herzog.”
Second up is “Floop” titled because it is “a simple groove loop piece in the key of F, and also featuring Afro-gospel organs, a mbira and Gareth Gale on drums, a telephone book and a Zulu shaker.” Buttery says the tune “In the Shade of the Wild Fig” is “full zen and features a 10-string Puerto Rican cuatro guitar played by my longtime collaborator and friend Nibs van der Spuy.”
The pieces “From Srinager” and “To Goulimine” were inspired “by my journey from Kashmir in Northern India to the Sahara in Morocco in search of the path Led Zeppelin took when writing their definitive tune ‘Kashmir’,” says Buttery.
“The melody of ‘Two Chords and the Truth’ takes its inspiration from West African kora players but I set it in a very different context. ‘Verbosity’ was inspired by the great Michael Hedges. ‘A Piece for Rudolf Fritsch’ is a lament for a cross-global friend I never met, and features multi-Grammy Award winning Will Ackerman. ‘3/4 in the Morning’ joins my acoustic guitar with upright bass played by South African jazz legend Shane Cooper.” Buttery, acknowledged as one of South Africa’s finest and most innovative fingerstyle guitarists, was called a “national treasure” by SA’s leading newspaper The Mercury. But he also has long been internationally recognized and has enjoyed invitations to play across the world for many years, especially in the USA, UK, Australia, France, Brazil and Italy.
He has collaborated with musical legends such as Dave Matthews, Jethro Tull, Salif Keita, The Violent Femmes, Will Ackerman and countless other internationally-renowned acts, and also worked with with not only a long list of top South African musicians but also international artists such as Shawn Philips, Jon Gomm, Preston Reed, Martin Simpson and Bob Brozman. In an in-depth three-page feature, Rolling Stone magazine cited Buttery simply as “extraordinary.”
Buttery has five previous solo albums -- When I Grow Up (released when he was 18), Songs from the Cane Fields, Fox Hill Lane, To Disappear in Place and Live in KwaZulu. He also collaborated with Nibs van der Spuy on the duo album In The Shade of the Wild Fig and performed on four other van der Spuy albums.
Buttery appeared on the Joanna Newsom Tribute album, Versions of Joanna, alongside M. Ward and Billy Bragg and played on recordings by Vusi Mahlasela with Dave Matthews, Farryl Purkiss, Dan Patlansky, Madala Kunene and Piers Faccini. In addition to performing on various acoustic guitars, Buttery also is proficient on a wide variety of instruments including ones such as sitar, mandolin, classical guitar, mbira and musical saw. Guy was introduced to music at an early age since his mother played piano and his older brothers played guitars. Guy started in on guitar at age 10.
Around the house were the sounds of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Dylan and Bob Marley, while outside nearby Guy heard the local Zulu tribesmen playing their Maskanda music in one direction and the sounds of sitar and tabla from Indian Hindu temples the other way. John Paul Jones’ mandolin on Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore” caused Guy to get a mandolin, and Ravi Shankar and local sitar players inspired Guy to also pick up that instrument. His guitar finger-style techniques expanded considerably after being introduced to the music of Michael Hedges.
“From a young age birding and making music have been consistently grounding pastimes for me,” remembers Buttery. “I find the ability to obtain stillness in both bird watching and making music to be very similar. As a teenager I would often wake up early on a school day, run down to the estuary and watch the herons rise from under their wing before jumping on the bus with my Walkman in hand usually loaded with cassettes by local band Tananas, Dylan, The Pixies, Ustad Sultan Khan or Madala Kunene.” When Buttery’s first album was released he received nominations from the prestigious South African Music Awards (SAMA).
He was the youngest nominee in history. With his next few albums he began winning SAMA Awards along with a wide variety of other national accolades. Additionally he was invited to perform his works with the 52-piece KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. “I feel that environment seeps into everything.
Luckily, with our landscape and weather systems, it’s easy to spend most of the year outdoors, and if you feel like it you can take your instrument along too. The coastal forests are omnipresent on the North Coast where I grew up and that is an example of something from nature that has influenced and inspired me, just as climbing trees and watching bird life has. Making music is simply dreaming out loud.”
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