Soular Order knows how to paint a soundscape.

The Mancunian musician creates experimental, ambient and beat-driven electronica, combining elements of analogue synths, guitars and found sound percussion.

He has a new EP due for release on his own imprint City By Night Records, and Clash is able to share a track from it for the first time.

With glitches, percussion, raindrops and handclaps building and bubbling slowly over a pulsing heartbeat, 'Downfall' creates something that feels both organic and digital all at once. Building to a surprisingly dance-floor ready crescendo, the soundscape filters away as subtly and delicately as it appeared.

In constant motion, driving forward, fluidly fluctuating both up and down, Soular says of the track: “Starting subtle and building towards a large encompassing ending."

Forthcoming EP ‘Beholder’ reflects his diverse range of influences, including Aphex Twin, David Bowie, William Basinski and Tycho, leading to a unique sound comparable to Brian Eno, Boards of Canada and Sigur Rós. The result is a breathy ambience that embraces the experimental and rejects the expected norms. 

Check out the new track below…

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The second album by Carla dal Forno, the Australian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, is a winning combination of straight-to-the-point spectral pop and airy instrumentals.

With a bass-heavy, early digital sheen, it nods to the ‘80s post-punk and new-wave obscurities she plays on her monthly NTS Radio show but sees them reimagined and recast with a woman at the fore.

While ‘Leaving for Japan’ is a beautiful, delicate song with something of the Twin Peaks theme, ‘Don’t Follow Me’ and ‘Push On’ show, dal Forno is just as adept at creating drama from sparsely layered atmospherics and a forceful beat.

7/10

Words: Wilf Skinner

Dig it? Dig deeper: A.C. Marias, Anna Domino, Maria Somerville

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Halsey dropped her new single 'clementine' over the weekend.

New album 'Manic' lands in the opening weeks of 2020, but the pop icon is determined to see out this year with a bang.

Celebrating her birthday over the weekend, Halsey decided to treat fans with the generous gift of some new music.

New single 'clementine' is out now, a fruity number with a frisky visualiser that places Halsey in – of all places – an aquarium.

It's equipped with lyrics so there's no need to Google them, and you could even sing along if that's your thing.

Check it out below.

'Manic' will be released on January 17th.

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Frank Ocean has given a few more details about his new album.

The songwriter is constructing fresh material, and sat down with W Magazine to discuss it further.

Borrowing from "club" elements, Frank Ocean says he has immersed himself in scenes across the globe; "Detroit, Chicago, techno, house, French electronic…"

Certainly, he's got experience here, linking with UK collective 1-800 Dinosaur back in 2015.

As for the lyrical content, he explained: "I believed for a very long time that there was strength in vulnerability, and I really don’t believe that anymore…"

"It’s my story. The expectation for artists to be vulnerable and truthful is a lot, you know? – when it’s no longer a choice. Like, in order for me to satisfy expectations, there needs to be an outpouring of my heart or my experiences in a very truthful, vulnerable way. I’m more interested in lies than that. Like, give me a full motion-picture fantasy."

Refusing to send his material across the web to avoid the potential for leaks, Frank Ocean instead seems to be transporting USBs around the globe.

He comments: "I’m working with a string arranger right now in Rio, and every time we go back and forth, because I don’t put things on the Internet, I have to send a drive with someone to Rio, or I have to go myself."

Currently plotting a photo series, Frank Ocean also indicated that he wanted to take a "punk" approach to utilising distribution.

Check out the full interview HERE.

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Yes, unbelievably it really is the end of September. 

This month the Mercury Prize brought amazing live performances from some of Britain and Ireland's most exhilarating artists – not to mention some emotional scenes, both political and personal (Dave and slowthai, we're looking at you) – reminding us just how exciting music is right now. 

The month's album output has been equally high-calibre, with brilliant LPs released by the deeply honest MUNA, the unflinchingly experimental Klein and avant-pop Charli XCX.

There was an ecstatic offering from Glaswegian purveyors of utopian ashram jams Free Love and a stunning, joyful solo debut from Brittany Howard

Needless to say it was tough to choose our top tips, but here's our round-up of some of the best albums that dropped in September…

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MUNA – Saves The World // REVIEW

Californian trio MUNA might not wrestle the world away from its troubles but they certainly come close on this fantastic second LP. Seemingly written against a backdrop of mutual heartbreaks and trauma, ‘Saves The World’ portrays the LA trio finding faith in one another, and in the sublime artistry of their songwriting.

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Free Love – Extreme Dance Anthems // REVIEW

Dancing is a form of ecstatic movement; raves a collective communion. Free Love are pilgrims on an ancient trail: cosmonauts of inner space seeking unity on the dancefloor. From their Full Ashram Celestial Garden (AKA their studio) sprung ‘Extreme Dance Anthems’, their second offering and follow-up to the SAY Award-nominated ‘Luxury Hits’. And suitably for a studio that shares space with both a church and a sex club, it delivers raptures of both the spirit and the flesh.

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Sampa The Great – The Return // REVIEW

The term “World Music” is painful. A clumsy, outdated, catch-all phrase for artists that don’t fit into the Western ideal of pop.It’s easy to see how Sampa The Great might have one become pegged into this slightly bizarre genre black hole. Her influences are vast. Her sphere is global. It would be wrong to put her in a box though. She’s far too good for that. ‘The Return’ challenges the very notion of “World Music”, shattering the tag into tiny pieces with over an hour’s worth of slick, genre hopping rap that spends as much time in the library as the dancefloor.

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JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs // REVIEW

On ‘All My Heroes Are Cornballs’ JPEGMAFIA has proved anyone who questioned whether ‘Veteran’ was a fluke wrong and joined that elusive club of rappers, and musicians as a whole, who have released a second album stronger than their first. “This album is my real life realisation.” Peggy recently said. And it feels real. After listening to the album and immersing yourself in Peggy’s world, it’s safe to say he is now a cornball.

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Charli XCX – Charli // REVIEW

Charlotte Aitchison has come a long way from Iggy Azalea’s 'Fancy'. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since that song was everywhere – and equally as much time since Charli XCX has released a full studio album. While she’s kept us quite a bit satiated in between with two different mixtapes and her 'Vroom Vroom' EP, the much-anticipated release of Charli is here. It sees producer A.G. Cook (of PC Music – known for pushing the limits of pop to sickly-sweet extremes) and Charli teaming up for yet a third project together— one that strikes an artful, masterful balance between too much… and much too much.

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Klein – Lifetime // REVIEW

Every now and again an album, and artist, comes along that leaves you breathless and exhilarated. After playing it you are left speechless and at a loss to make sense of what you’ve heard. So you play it again. At the end you know it was enjoyable and it spoke to you, but you are at a loss to try and articulate it. ‘Lifetime’ by Klein is this kind of album. It encompasses everything the artist has experienced so far, rich with texture and ideas. Let’s hope it doesn’t take her another lifetime to create something as singular and enjoyable as this.

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Brittany Howard – Jaime // REVIEW

‘Jaime’ is arguably Brittany Howard’s most important work to date spiritually, let alone critically. From the tantalisingly percussive ‘History Repeats’ to the melancholically synthesised ‘Run to Me’, ‘Jaime’ is an unflinching exploration of the very nooks and crannies we censor even from ourselves. Named in memoriam of the beloved sister Howard lost to cancer when both were in their teens, the album is a sonic sucking of the poison from the wounds of life, and the regeneration of the artist thereafter. 

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Kojey Radical – Cashmere Tears // REVIEW

'Cashmere Tears' places Kojey Radical in a nuanced state of emotions. Backed by real-life experiences and growth from them, the physically young artist is able to convey mature, nurtured and considered life-timelines which – if failing to resonate with his target audience – allow for the wider-eyes of the world to get a glimpse of the true package and depth that he possesses in the palm of his hand. A truly  refreshing LP.

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Joe Armon-Jones – Turn To Clear View // REVIEW

‘Turn To Clear View’ is an album that shoots out of the speakers like a bolt of sunshine and immediately sucks you into its woozy world. After Joe Armon-Jones and collaborator/co-producer Maxwell Owin wrote out the musical charts that would turn into ‘Turn To Clear View’ the whole thing was recorded over two days.

And its feeling of immediacy really comes across in the playing. But when you have Oscar Jerome, Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia in your band, the results were always going to be something special.

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Girl Band – The Talkies // REVIEW

This is a beautiful album from Girl Band, but not conventionally. Its bespoke aesthetics depict the sense of a particular space, one where panic, desperation, anger, paranoia and claustrophobia are found. Recorded last year at Ireland’s historic Ballintubbert House, this second album sees them create an impressionist series of snapshots, a sonic representation of the house they were occupying. Primal, raw and unformed – and ultimately not an album for the faint-hearted – its lyrical content alternates between the absurd and the everyday.

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The growth of the podcast has altered the way we approach radio.

Now, you don't need to sit beside the speaker with a cassette poised on 'pause' waiting for the latest Evening Session to begin – you can simply dial up at your leisure.

As a result, a host of independent outlets have sprung up, a kind of digitally enhanced CB radio that moves from true crime all the way to pop culture.

With today – September 30th – being named International Podcast Day (and no, we don't know who decides these things either…) Clash decided to round up some of the best music podcasts around.

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Song Exploder

Ever wondered what really went into the construction of your favourite songs? Look no further than the brilliant Song Exploder, where musicians take apart their tracks piece by piece, and tell the story of how they were made.

In a tight 20 minutes (dubbed “probably the best use of the podcast format ever” by New York magazine's 'Vulture' site) host and creator Hrishikesh Hirway takes us through everything from personal anecdotes behind songs – on recent episode Denzel Curry breaks down ‘RICKY’, named after his father – the writing process (such as Björk writing a staggering sixty strings lines for ‘Stonemilker’), and the minutiae of recording and instrumentation… just exactly what did it take to create the drama of the Game Of Thrones theme tune?

The perfect podcast for all the stans out there. – Emma Finamore

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Hip-Hop Saved My Life

Romesh Ranganathan (and his long-suffering producer Rupert) is a joy for fans of old-school hip-hop and comedy alike. From a well-articulated hatred of mumble rap, to the challenges of playing rap (or not) around your young children – see this Twitter thread for tips and potentially kid-friendly playlists – HHSML features a stellar line-up of guests, earworm novelty rap-style indents for regular sections (“Man! Hip-hop gripes” is a personal fave), and a healthy does of cynicism.

Recent stand-out guests include Mercury nominee Little Simz – talking about her schooling in classics like Biggie, as well as the importance of local youth clubs in developing her ideas and love of music – and Louis Theroux, but delve back into the podcast archive to find a live Rodney P episode, comedian Jamali Maddix on Wu-Tang, GZA and MF Doom, a slightly drunk Snowy Danger, the legendary Afrika Baby Bam of Jungle Brothers and many, many more… – Emma Finamore

Table Manners – Jessie Ware

As if her solo material wasn’t enough of a showcase for that incredible voice Jessie Ware has constructed a parallel career as a warm, funny, and continually fascinating podcast host.

Her show Table Manners just kicked off its seventh season, and it runs around a remarkable simply format: just Jessie, her mum, and a hand-picked guest talking about food and family direct from their very own kitchen table. Season Six highlights included a wonderful spot from fellow London resident Neneh Cherry and the infectious laughter of Olly Alexander, while Season Seven opened with a visit to Edinburgh Fringe.

Developing a cult following of its own, Table Manners is a meal worth savouring. – Robin Murray

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George Ezra & Friends

Long regarded on these pages as one of British music’s most sincere exhibits of positivity George Ezra makes for the perfect host on his regular podcast.

The format is a fairly simple In Conversation vibe, with George Ezra & Friends allowing the titular folk-pop wonder to sit down with some real heroes. Season Two was typically broad, with the guitarist chatting amiably to everyone from Kurt Vile to Sir Tom Jones, Sigrid to Nile Rodgers. 

Somehow fitting his presenting into a hectic touring schedule, the decision to end his ‘Staying At Tamara’s’ tour with two (sold out) nights at the Royal Albert Hall should give George Ezra plenty of time to hang out with his podcast chums. – Robin Murray

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Homo Sapiens

One of British pop’s true gentlemen Will Young has always come across as an affable, intelligent, and genuinely funny personality. Linking with filmmaker Chris Sweeney for the regular Homo Sapiens podcast, the two bill themselves as ‘Woman’s Hour For An LGBTQ+ Audience’ which pretty much nails their approach perfectly.

Having pushed their way to a mighty 35 episodes there’s perhaps too many highlights to mention, but you should definitely check out Sam Smith’s meeting with the pair, Skin’s wonderfully outspoken visit, and their tete a tete with comedian Julian Clary, who is at his waspish best as he looks back on his early days in London clubs.

It’s not just comedy, though – there’s an in-depth look at the lesbian community in Hebden Bridge, analysis of LGBTQ+ inclusivity in schools, and a meeting with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. – Robin Murray

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Robert Plant

Iconic Led Zeppelin frontman turned solo wizard Robert Plant has a deep and avowed love of music, with his record collection moving from rockabilly to Arabic culture, via British avant folk, metal, and more.

Digging Deep affords the rock icon space to explore some of these inspirational releases, while looking back on his career via one iconic release at a time. Moving through his catalogue on a bite-sized yet also in-depth basis, this is the rare chance to hear a bona fide legend on reflective form.

Oh, and the best part? A whole new season has just kicked off. – Robin Murray

Bigmouth – Andrew Harrison

Andrew Harrison has long been an advocate for the podcast artform, going so far as to host two of his own – the politically-minded Remainiacs, and the musically-gifted Bigmouth.

We’re fans of both, but for the purpose of this list Bigmouth gains the nod. Andrew – formerly of Q and much-missed chronicle The Word – chats to Sian Pattenden, the pair make perfect foils for one another as they traverse the musically-inclined elements of pop culture.

Recent episodes pursue BBC3’s UK Rap Game, Sky’s Mod weekend, and the Factory Records exhibition in London, using these as cyphers for the pair to explore broader themes in the cultural conversation. – Robin Murray

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Stage shows are a massive, massive undertaking.

Often taking months – if not years – to plan, lay out, and execute, they can leave a permanent impact on fans' consciousness.

Take Twenty One Pilots. The band's recent Bandito tour in October was an explosive extravaganza, featuring an elaborate stage set up.

Now The Chainsmokers have kicked off their World War Joy, and some have noted a similarity between their current live experience and Twenty One Pilots' achievements.

Here's a few concerned onlookers.

Indeed, some fans have gone far enough as to resurrect an old beef between the two artists…