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Black Cat patrons won’t just have Sockets Records to mourn on Feb. 2, when the local label of indie rock and various other eccentric sounds celebrates its eight-year run and then calls it a day. The concert will also be the final performance of Hume, the spacey prog-pop band formed in D.C. by guitarist and singer Britton Powell. The group, which released a handful of solid EPs (including one excellent, LP-length one), was for several years a mainstay of D.C.’s house-show scene: They were a resident band at the Columbia Heights space Paper Sun, and played memorable shows at venues like The Cherch and Subterranean A. The group moved to a space in Baltimore this year, following a writing and recording detour in Argyle, N.Y.
Over time, the band’s muscular yet blissed out music evolved from caterwauling guitar calisthenics to free-ranging, suitelike vision quests to abstract yet economical avant-pop songs inspired by musique concrete—-with a couple of eccentric orchestral turns along the way. All that musical exploration, it turns out, has now led the band’s four current members—-Wilson Kemp, Peter Tran, Joey Doubek, and Powell—-down some different paths. Powell writes:
Musical direction is the impetus for the shift, we all really wanna try something new. Wilson and Peter have been getting deeply into analog synth work, Joey is really interested in exploring heavier/darker themes and has been listening to a ton of industrial music and I myself have been interested in writing music for acoustic instruments. We figured it would make the most sense to explore these ideas outside of the group and with sincerity so it made sense to move forward.
The Argyle, N.Y., sojourn produced a direction-shifting 12-inch anchored by the song “Phasing,” but Powell doesn’t expect to release any more material from those sessions, or any other ones. “We have mountains of recordings left from sessions over the last year and a half but no plans to release any of the material properly,” he writes. “If David Geffen came knocking we might reconsider it.” Nevertheless, Powell’s outlook on the future is characteristically Zen:
We’re all in Baltimore and still love each other more then ever, we’re throwing concerts in our warehouse, still improvising musically together and living our day to day life as great friends. Not much has changed except for the fact that we won’t be spending most of our time together in a van or studio. I personally have learned more about making and engaging with music in the last two years with Hume then any other time of my life and I feel totally lucky to have been able to play as many stages and for as many people as we have. We’re all very much looking forward to the next step in our musical lives and I anticipate that we’ll all be collaborating in the near future with each other in some sense.
Hume performs with Deleted Scenes, Buildings, and Imperial China on Feb. 2 at the Black Cat. Photo via Sockets Records