“Gather ’round, boys, girls and children
I have a fable to read to you all
Our story begins on a warm summer’s day
In a small tattered town, in a small tattered house
Where a small cat resided
Mainly in his bed
A sad cat rendered cold and withered by the whispers of his past actions
The cat lay alone in his tattered bed
Wondering… and pondering… his lonesome thoughts”
It has been five years since these lines were uttered on the opening track of the venerable Lausse The Cat’s debut (and to date only) EP ‘The Girl, The Cat and The Tree’. Over the next eight tracks Lausse, a mysterious, cryptic character, fused dulcet, intricate melodies with vivid and introspective storytelling. The EP was a captivating combination of fantasy, with elaborate characters and magic inspired language, and realism in the form of harrowing explorations mental anguish and coping mechanisms. Following the release of this EP, alongside a handful of excellent features and singles, Lausse disappeared from view.
With his hidden identity and complex lore, Lausse’s potency is found in his vulnerability. He delves into the often-romanticised lifestyle of casual sex and heavy drug use in an authentically introspective and tender fashion. Mental health is explored in a blunt and genuine way, describing how “I don’t see the point in gettin’ dressed, I don’t even see the point in gettin’ breakfast if I’m honest.” Across the EP, his character, Lausse, sets off on a quest to “inspect why my heart’s wrong”, and on the journey finds himself sidetracked by a world of distraction and destruction.
The mellow melodies of the EP serve to highlight the way in which the cat’s story never gets swept up in itself. The tracks are punctuated with moments of reflection and hesitation, seen in lyrics such as those in ‘Drink with the Leaves’ in which the Tree Wizard (voiced by Nix Northwest) asks Lausse “boy, do you drink ‘cause you’ve got some sorrows?” In a genre usually dominated by stylised and romanticised lifestyles, where vulnerability is a rare and conscious choice by the narrator, this makes Lausse stand out. By introducing these characters to his story, who question his behaviours and beliefs, a narrative of introspection is introduced which makes the listener feel they are learning about Lausse at the same rate of which he is learning about himself.
Within Lausse’s tracks there is an intricately detailed world, one that is filled to the brim with a chaotic swarm of characters yet deeply imbued with a sense of loneliness. The nuance and lore around his work makes it open to interpretation and analysis, leaving it endlessly interesting and refreshing to listen to. Despite the fact ‘The Girl, The Cat and The Tree’ was released half a decade ago, and his last track was uploaded to soundcloud four years ago, he maintains a dedicated and hopeful fanbase.
Speculation around Lausse’s whereabouts show no sign of slowing down. Releases by previous collaborators, such as this year’s Nix Northwest album ‘Xin’s Dissapearance.’ always lead to a surge in interest and discussions of a potential feature. But the album has been out for months now, and there are still multiple comments written in the past week on Lausse’s most recent instagram post (now four years old) asking when he will return. The r/LausseTheCat subreddit contains almost 2000 active members, and features regular posts including fan theories regarding Lausse’s whereabouts, potential comebacks and analysis of the characters and storylines of his tracks. For every fan demanding Lausse returns, there is another reminding them that it is his choice to stay away, but the aching absence remains there still.
Why Lausse remains so yearned for years after his disappearance is a topic as complicated and nuanced as his storylines. The music is uniquely mellow and melancholic, and sounds consistently contemporary even as hip-hop relentlessly matures and expands. It is difficult to ignore the allure shrouding his character from the get go. A mysterious, masked cat, who is so vulnerable and open, yet in practise we know nothing about. It is part of what makes the music so captivating, it is imbued with a genuine sense of suffering and isolation yet leaves enough anonymity for each listener to project their own readings and meanings onto the tracks. Lausse’s character is shrouded in mystery, and by very nature prone to conspiracy.
But the way Lausse’s absence remains so prominent to his fanbase feels at least in part accountable to the value of his voice. For men in particular, Lausse has presented to his audience a rare space of vulnerability and honesty, in which his lifestyle is neither demonised or romanticised but instead explored, in both it’s highs and lows. Lausse makes you feel not quite so alone, and his fans’ desperate desire for him to return can be accounted as much to wanting new music as an aching need to know that someone not once felt the way they feel, but survived to tell the tale.
Words: Eve Boothroyd