Sort By Dragging, the latest album from German producer Ulli Bomans, is a lesson in how to create music that resonates with moodiness and atmosphere. Opening track “Detroit Tape Noise” takes you on a sonic quest that presents the first in a variety of emotions as the album unfolds. From the minimalist crawl of “Leech With A Deed” to the sprawling drawl of “Nicotine” and the sparse industrial of “Tumble Dry Wet,” the range of ambience that seeps from the speakers is admirable. There is a beauty at play on the album, too, especially on “Parents” when the emotive state is palpable throughout. Despite the sad nature of how the track sounds, the sense of beauty is strong and it would take a heart of stone not to feel at least a twinge of sadness when listening to the track. In direct contrast is the title track, a foreboding song that oozes pure menace. It’s bolstered by the creeping throb of “Sweep Your Floor,” which seethes with dread. If atmosphere is one word that could sum up this album, then cinematic is the other. These two definitions do go hand-in-hand on “One Piece Missing” and “Browser.”
The album flows together like a film soundtrack that conjures up images of a decaying futuristic dystopia. At times it recalls both the dazzling visuals (in your head) of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner and its classic Vangelis score. (If the rumours of a Blade Runner sequel are true, then the director could do a hell of a lot worse than let Ulli Bomans score it.) When Sort By Dragging concludes with the melancholic “Perfect Picture” and the haunting “Screensaver,” it ends on a downward note like a film without a happy ending. Sort By Dragging is not an easy listen by any means, but it is worth it because its sonic range is breathtaking.