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Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Trouble

  • Written by  James Blake

Oxford based producer Orlando Higginbottom is more commonly known as Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur. Some would label such a title as pretentious, others see it as a chance to not let genuinely good music become inaccessible. Throw in a pair of scale clad girls flanking his live show and the fact he assumed it a necessity to don a triceratops one piece having decided on the name and it's safe to say Higginbottom’s project is camped with the latter. Remove the (un-serious) guise of the dinosaur bodysuit however and you’re left with a producer who has grown into his own skin to create one of the year’s most anticipated albums; Trouble.

An intricate web of percussive syncopation builds to form opener, 'Promise'. Every glitch and click is so tastefully woven that the track becomes subconsciously familiar, leaving you in the capable hands of TEED’s near perfect production. As the track fades a gasp of silence allows you to question if he’ll ride on this introduction, fearing TEED will hop aboard the ‘let’s give techno-house a face lift’ bandwagon. Thankfully, these concerns are cleared up by the title track. A carefree attitude builds as 'Trouble' gains momentum. A fragile vocal cracked with imperfections becomes a welcome break from repetitive samples as it swoons bursts of multilayered synths to create an addictive charm to TEED’s work.

This Hot Chip-like lilt, inherited from a choir master, becomes a key feature of the album as Higginbottom unashamedly flirts between styles, each track giving less of a T-rex’s left ball which genre it ‘belongs’ to. 'Panpipes' and 'Solo' mingle with four-to-the-floor bass while previous singles 'Garden' and 'Tapes & Money' rendezvous with some dangerously attractive hooks. The lyrical content throughout the album often reflects this outlook too, pre-release favourite 'Household Goods' doing it’s fair share with the line “I could be the dog to your bone … or something.”

Despite the exclusion of attention seeking, the album stands out from those around it, flowing seamlessly thanks to Higginbottom’s attention to detail and a worrying awareness of rhythm instilled by his older brother’s jungle collection. There’s a unique blend of elements borrowed from a vast spectrum of genres and time periods, a TEED stamp of approval with the afore mentioned uncontrollable likability giving Trouble a longevity similar to much of LCD Soundsystem’s catalogue.

The only aspect that keeps the album off constant loop is its length. Although the bright, youthful energy of 'American Dream Part 2' perks up the tail end of Trouble, it doesn’t provide enough incentive to carry into the tracks that follow. The Burial-esque sparsity of 'Closer' and 'Fair' would be better placed as B-sides and are the only suggestion of album fillers before a cappella house-trance 'Stronger' gives an final glimpse of Higginbottom’s comfort in style chemistry.

Trouble is a refreshing insight into how it feels not to categorise everything with a beat; an escape from the effort that goes into being a house, hip-hop or whatever it is you exclusively listen to fan. Unlike others, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs has not been affected by the pressure to deliver and if anything gives Higginbottom an excuse to add a few more inches to the infamous head dress.

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