Faster than a baseball game. Stronger than most 12 year-olds. Able to keep people wondering what he's talking about. Look! Up on the movie screen! It's Beaver Nelson! This summer marks the release of Austin songwriter Beaver Nelson's 7th and most adventurous recording yet, Macro/Micro. Macro/Micro is a flowing –jarring album with one song melting into the next, yet with each song holding its own distinctive tone. But wait, that's not all! There is also an accompanying album-length film. Beaver will be touring in support of Macro/Micro with a projector and a screen and several guitars, performing the entire affair, start to finish.
Macro/Micro is the first album self-produced by Beaver. " Because the band wasn't playing together very often during that time, I was writing in a vacuum, and wrote a majority of it on piano, not my primary instrument. This necessarily slowed down the process, but brought out so many elements that writing on guitar would not have, " Nelson states. "It was all in my head, and it demanded to come out. It took a little while." Working with known commodities Scrappy Jud Newcomb (guitar), Mark Patterson (drums and percussion), Stephen Belans (drums and percussion), Matt Eskey (bass), Nick Connolly (keys), and John Harvey and Mary Podio (Top Hat Studio), helped Nelson take things in this new direction.
The sprawling nature of the recording presented a bit of a challenge in how best to present these songs live. It was just not going to be possible to go out and play these songs as a solo act in the way that he had toured for the last decade. "I was writing songs that I could not play. I had removed all the self-imposed restrictions I had previously worked under, removing the acoustic guitar from the primary position, and allowing other sounds to be essential to the songs. Great, but how do I perform this stuff?"
The band talked a lot about this during studio downtime. These conversations eventually led Beaver to call Stephen Henderson, a filmmaker that he had met a year and a half earlier. Nelson and Henderson then started work on the video side. They used a limited amount of video to create a kickstarter campaign, and raised enough money to complete the film, manufacture CDs/DVDs, tour, and promote the whole project.
What they came up with is an album-length film that can be watched on DVD, and an instrumental version of the soundtrack that Beaver can perform with at shows while the movie is being projected on a large screen.
At times the film is a point-of-view piece, deep in imagery. At other times Nelson is prominent. One song in particular, "Natural Man Does Not Exist", recreates 15 years' worth of album covers and a pair of goggles to tell the story. His daughter's dollhouse is the lead in the opening piece, moving from the inside out, and then into the world – just like we all do. Confused? Purr-fect.
This summer and fall will find Nelson touring with his film, performing along with it. "I can't wait to see where this thing is going to take me," he says. "I'm very proud of this work and I hope it finds its audience. It's always kind of had a life of its own. I'm just along for the ride."
Press: Traci Thomas / Thirty Tigers / 615.664.1167 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Stephen Henderson