The bass guitar. Often a symbol of groove, depth, and funk. Depending on your angle, and indeed what style of music you play, the bass can either be the one thing that hooks you into a song, or a powerful weapon of forcible downward magnitude, as ever with stoner, sludge and doom. There are those bands who either dispense with the bass altogether, and there are some for whom the bassist is seemingly unimportant (Metallica’s ‘…And Justice For All’ a seeming example for Jason Newsted fans).
But although the bass as a leading instrument is neither new or unique, there aren’t many that use the bass in such a way as Leeds’ Cattle, an intriguing three-piece, eschewing the usual need for guitars and dispensing with them in favour of a vocalist, bassist and two drummers, which becomes the integral part of their sound on this four-track EP. They fall somewhere between math rock and noise rock, juxtaposing often between the two. But whatever, they realise the importance of the bassist as both an instrument and as a force, exposing every groove, nuance, and occasional bludgeon. The first track, ‘Rockets’ ratchets up tension and atmosphere at first before the vocals come in, kicking off a delightful riff-fest. The second track, ‘Whoa Bessie’, is for me the highlight of this release, a bit like Big Business riding the Unsane bull and becoming every bit as much of a rodeo as the title suggests by speeding up and slowing down to great effect, like sailing the choppiest waters but without the feeling of seasickness. The bass is allowed to stand right out and at times it even resembles a bit of a lounge session, such as the toe-tapping riff that forms part of ‘Pyramid Shaped Hole’. When they do drop into noise rock territory, its every bit as trenched and rocking as you’d expect, but that they allow the bass to sometimes seem so sparse and alone, above the excellent percussive tones, occasionally bordering on minimalist, giving them an extra edge and a slight uniquity that often goes missing so often in bands these days.
It will be interesting to see where they head next, but Cattle are a rare breed indeed, and the curious amongst us will no doubt find appreciation in this band.
Buy/download ‘Self Titled’ EP here
Stream it below: