Written in the first weeks of Isolation, ‘I can hear the birds’ is the new EP from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’, aka Orlando Higginbottom. As can be ascertained from the title, Higginbottom was influenced by birdsong, louder than ever in the lockdown days, sending musical greetings cards to friends.
Orlando takes up the story “….On 22nd March a friend sent me a recording of the birds that were keeping her awake in the Canary Islands. It was early in this story and anxiety was high, so I took the recording and made some music to it as a present to send back, a hug, and an exercise to take my mind off the obvious. The next day I spoke to a friend in South London who like many of us was commenting on the volume of the birdsong in his garden, so I asked for a recording of that too, and he woke at dawn the next day and sent me blackbirds, house sparrows, and a great tit. I sent him music a day or two later. Working on my existing musical projects was proving difficult and so this pattern of receiving bird recordings from friends and sending them back songs emerged as a welcome practice. On 15th April my friend Jon Wright of Sports Banger, aware of my project, showed me a drawing a kid had done on the letter Boris Johnson had sent out to every UK household. On it were colourful birds and “bum face boris bollocks”. Also the words “I can hear the birds again”. So I took that as a sign that I should finish this music, and release it as an EP called “I can hear the birds”. The artwork is a painting by Jethro Buck, my pal who got up early in Brockley and recorded for me. We’ve known each other since we were 5. I’ve always hoped we’d get an opportunity to collide our worlds one day.I did 8 tracks in total, from Delhi, Nairobi, New York.. there are 4 on this EP, because 4 feels like the right amount. Thanks to the people who sent me recordings, you know who you are xxxx”
Opener Brockley sets the scene, this warm drone and the birdsong giving way, or at least moving to the side for this beautiful affecting piano line. Softly undulating the bassline stays still, allowing the melodies to sprawl, hung onto a frame of long notes and soft electronics. It’s quite beautiful.
Los Angeles is more involved, with textured synth lines over a little repeating fragment. No birdsong here until snatches at the end as it weaves its hymnal path through. With Bundeena the opposite is the case, the birds spread all over the track as the synth line plays out this John Adams / Philip Glass like workout, gradually morphing from one thing to another.
The EP closes with Islas Canarias, an object lesson in minimal melodies, soft gluey synth lines moving not very far, as it plays out with this innocence and beauty that, like the EP as a whole, is beguiling.
I can hear the birds is out now on OH YOU // Liberator Records