The mutant Madison-formed jazz band returns with its second album, "Toxic Consonance."
Madison band The Lovely Socialite Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps only recently truncated its name down to what everyone calls it anyway, Lovely Socialite, and titled its 2012 debut album Registers Her Delight, which might lead you to expect a lot of affected whimsy. But actually this band is deeply odd in its bones, having sprouted from the intersection of formal musical training and dogged experimentation. Lovely Socialite’s instrumentals may be rooted in heady, through-composed jazz and modern classical, but also make elegant nods to funk, rock, hip hop, noise music, and, via multi-instrumentalist Brian Grimm’s fleet of intimidating Chinese stringed instruments, a host of Asian music styles.
Since releasing that first album, the six-piece band has scattered a bit, with bassist Ben Willis living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and trombone player Corey Murphy and cellist Pat Reinholz both moving to Milwaukee. But that didn’t hinder Lovely Socialite’s ability to create expansive, densely layered jazz instrumentals, to judge from the forthcoming album Toxic Consonance. (Um, don’t get that mixed up with Sinister Resonance, which is the name of another outlandish Madison jazz outfit.) Lovely Socialite will be celebrating the album’s release with an October 10 show at Bright Red Studios.
If anything, Toxic Consonance feels like a rediscovery, as if a bit of geographic separation and juggling lots of other projects only pushed the individual members to buckle down harder on their nuanced chemistry and wide-ranging musical tastes. The album’s seventh track, “Humus,” composed by Reinholz, begins with a tense 5/4 figure from vibraphonist Abe Sorber, and a harsh but controlled burr of feedback and distortion from Willis’ bass. As the band gradually piles on with screeching cellos and percussive abused-instrument sounds, Sober and drummer Mike Koszewski maintain an eerie, airy groove, creating more open space for the other instruments rather than exploding and abrading along with them. Even as the song veers off into its most experimental sections, it’s still got a strong sense of harmonic cohesion, thanks to its barbed cello theme and the subtle nudging of Murphy’s trombone. Stream it here.