You might be tempted to call And The Professors’ debut recording, Our Postmortem, an orchestral rock or chamber pop record. But it falls squarely within the tradition of American music which draws inspiration from the past while searching relentlessly for the future — sharing creative kinship with Charles Ives, George Gershwin, Randy Newman, Judee Sill, Beck, and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden.
Our Postmortem combines contemporary instrumentation with occasional lush ’60s and ’70s pop arrangements, a bit of dissonance and electric noise with acoustic, symphonic and pastoral moments. Singer-songwriter Adam Levy (The Honeydogs), a student of history and cultural anthropology, uses this curious mix to sing about the strange historical juncture at which we find ourselves — aching for an imagined past while hurtling forward.
The album was the culmination of a three-year collaborative effort between Levy, a busy cast of arrangers, string players from the Minnesota Opera, and musician friends from Minneapolis’s fertile sonic play ground.
When assembling And The Professors, Levy leaned on a stellar group of soughtafter players: composer/keyboardist deVon Gray (Brother Ali, Chastity Brown, Heiruspecs), drummer Joey Van Phillips (Dessa), bassist Trent Norton (The Honeydogs), and singer-songwriters Bethany Larson and Aby Wolf. In addition, cellist and frequent pop collaborator Rebecca Arons headed up a string quartet drawn from the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, including violinists Conor O’Brien, Margaret Humphrey, and violist Susan Janda. The resulting ensemble mixes the harmonic wealth and precision-based skills and sensibilities of the music conservatory with those of the accident-embracing, world-weary rock world.
Hollywood composer/arranger Robert Elhai (The Sixth Sense, Batman, The Lion King and The Expendables), composer/arranger Adi Yeshaya (Burt Bacharach, Prince and Aretha Franklin), composer/arranger Victor Zupanc (music director for the Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis), Andy Thompson, and deVon Gray provided the film score-like backdrop for Levy’s songs, written with string quartet in mind. The arrangements often merge classical, romantic and 20 century experimental sensibilities and carefully compliment Levy’s enigmatic lyrics and durable melodies.
Levy’s lyrics are often first person and explore relationships, while hinting at larger observations about history and the world beyond our private spaces. Adam’s songs are hopeful despite tracing the outline of a fractured landscape.
And The Professors’ debut Our Postmortem is a cinematic, thought-provoking and mood-altering collection of songs for the ages coming out on NYC’s Simon Recordings fall 2013.
Band members: deVon Gray (composer/keayboards), Joey Van Phillips (drums), Trent Norton (bass), Bethany Larson (vocals), Aby Wolf (vocals), Rebecca Arons (cello), Conor O’Brien (violin), Margaret Humphrey (violin), Susan Janda (viola)