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Photo by Chris Casella

Jacoti Sommes

In preparation for meeting with Jacoti Sommes, I begged him to share a preview of his latest creation. A few days later my inbox was graced with Ubermensch, an indefinable mesh of otherworldly  sounds, textures, beats, and nonlinear excursions. There was also a short message explaining the album’s origins:

“It’s about a time when a couple of universal beings came down and asked me to DJ their party on Mucoduco,” Sommes wrote.

Of course, after listening to the record on repeat for an entire weekend, when it came time to sit and talk while drinking beers on the porch of his east side home, I had to ask about those “universal beings.” If only because Ubermensch is exactly how I envision a Sommes space-trip to be sound-tracked.

“Well, space is the place,” Sommes said with the utmost sincerity. “I was coming home from work one night and turned around to see these two beings. They wanted me to help people, show people there’s another way. They said they would give me infinite knowledge with anything connected to an electromagnetic field. They beamed me up in their ship, took me to Mucoduco, we rocked it. On the way back, I convinced them to let me drive.”

“My main goal is to take everybody on a journey through sound, Anybody who hears it will never question where we are going. You’re going to feel the same thing I feel. You’re going to feel the same thing the person next to you feels.”

Anyone who is familiar with Sommes’ previous work knows that the man is a personality unto himself. Whether it’s the theatrical absurdity of former band Hugs and Kisses, producing records for hip-hop heads Envelope and Nes Wordz, or creating the score for a locally-produced “whitesploitation” musical. (Yes, for real). So hanging with aliens makes sense, and so do his theories that the pyramids were built using sound. (Or the fact that he is currently embedding his music with ancient Solfeggio tones, which are known to heal both mind and body). He’s an artist who’s impossible to compartmentalize or truly understand, yet his craft is ambitious and sonically irresistible. A renaissance man?

“My main goal is to take everybody on a journey through sound,” Sommes said. “Anybody who hears it will never question where we are going. You’re going to feel the same thing I feel. You’re going to feel the same thing the person next to you feels. I want to present my music to the world.”

Regardless if Sommes harnessed most of his power from extraterrestrial life, most of his prowess came with incessant training and a patience learned at an early age. He started his journey on an out-of-tune piano in his grandmother’s basement, eventually moving on to his father’s analog synths and drum machines, which he taught his own father to use after pouring over the manuals. Anytime Sommes happens upon a piece of equipment he feels is necessary for his arsenal, mastering that technology is a prerequisite before adding it to the mix. On the other side, he’s also prone to just letting the equipment guide his path. For the recent Murder Lover EP, Sommes bought his first guitar and based the record on his adoration of the local rock scene, mimicking without knowing how to play a single lick. Either way, the results are like nothing else you’ll hear or see on a Columbus stage.

To that end, though he refers to himself as the Han Solo of production (“always there when you need him”), there’s another creative wave emitting from Sommes as a solo artist that has taken his recordings and live shows to another level entirely. Ubermensch is perhaps the closest the world will come to hearing all the different headspaces of Sommes under one marquee. The album soars through the peaks and valleys of his many whimsies, be it the analog synth tones of Kraftwerk and Boards of Canada, electro-funk, classic R&B, the golden age of hip-hop, the warped circuitry of Aphex Twin,  jungle, doo-wop, and even bluegrass. It’s a world of sound few have yet to travel.

“We take sound for granted more than we should, because it’s important,” Sommes said. “We’d never be able to do anything without music, but no one uses music for everyday means, taking it seriously for what it really is. It’s a powerful tool if you sit around and play with it all the time.”

To hear the incredible creations of Jacoti Sommes visit soundcloud.com/jacoti.

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