Jacoti Sommes is proof that you can make boundary-pushing art in the humblest of places. A native and resident of Columbus, Ohio, the multi-instrumentalist and composer has spent his career deconstructing genre and reassembling its base parts to build new and stranger hybrids. Sommes’ first solo album, 2018’s Ubermensch, is an excellent fusion of hip-hop, electronic, and ambient that sits somewhere between Aphex Twin’s twisted circuitry and the breakbeat IDM of Boards of Canada, even venturing into the vocoder-drenched psychedelia of Black Moth Super Rainbow at times.
On Travel Time, Sommes mines synths and drum machines to create an experimental electronic record that pulls equally from funk and ‘80s dance music, consistently finding forward-thinking ways to break from the familiar sounds he’s refashioning. “Pulse Start” is the electro-funk score that Miami Vice needed, its ominous opening of deep, foreboding chords giving way to an uptempo dance track that reimagines the punchy analog drums and synth bass of old to sound like they’re streaming from a galaxy light years ahead. On bouncy dance track “Everything is Fine,” Sommes both complements and then disrupts the propulsive beat with a piano solo and barrage of drums. Moments like these, as well as the modern drum patterns on tracks like “I Got Your Back,” prove that Travel Time is not simply a pastiche, but an attempt look to the future using the sounds of the past.