As scientists debate whether one particular species of enormous extinct dinosaur, T-Rex, was a fearsome carnivore or a primeval vulture, Oxford born producer Orlando Higginbotham proves himself to be both an adept scavenger and one of the UK’s most exciting young talents.
Buoyed by twice appearing as Nick Grimshaw’s Radio 1 Record of the Week and always fond of peacock-like theatricality it is no surprise that Higginbotham takes centre stage on almost all of the tracks on his debut album. Although he’s not an exceptional vocalist or lyricist, by fronting up his own material there’s a sense of intimacy and perspective often lost in an impersonal genre. When he sings ‘Can’t stop thinking of you’ on ‘You Need Me On Your Own’ the result is a quirky slice of Miike Snow/Hot Chip pop with an organic heart to it, despite the lack of organic instrumentation.
Lead single and title track ‘Trouble’ is a tale of lies and lost love set to squelchy synth and brass, ending in a bleeping meltdown of video game sounds. Follow-up ‘Shimmer’s beat has more of an RnB feel to it, unspooling through airy synths and cut-up Caribbean drums into a mad electro-rave party track.
In recent interviews the young producer has spoken of wanting to create something akin to Roni Size/Reprazent’s 1997 Mercury Prize Winning ‘New Forms’ in timelessness if not directly in sound and ‘Trouble’ bravely sticks to its own path, taking in tech house, trance and electro-pop to create the soundtrack to Higginbotham’s very own Lost World. In fact it this refusal to incorporate the latest dance music fads which makes ‘Trouble’ more likely to achieve its creator’s Roni Size-sized ambitions. ‘Household Goods’ starts as a bleepy Balearic bop before two seconds of sharply deployed kettle drum ushers in a tidal wave sized house kick that washes the track far out to sea. Early relic ‘Garden’ fares less well. Its trancey synths and female vocal feel familiar but its indistinct and vague compared to his more recent releases.
The second half of the record feels slighter and less memorable than the first, with a greater emphasis on instrumentals but by the time the redemptive ‘Stronger’ fades out it’s hard not to see why Higginbotham has been so in demand as a remixer for the likes of Lady Gaga and Professor Green. With a powerful but idiosyncratic vision of his own Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs look set to roam the earth for plenty of time to come.