There's a sense of nurture that radiates throughout James Carson's Hot DOCS NYC world premiere Cabin Music, a sublime yet difficult to describe nearly two-decade effort to transform the ways in which music is created.
Every description that I've read thus far feels inadequate to describe the wholeness of Cabinet Music. The description on IMDB, for example, states "After a spiritual crisis, a New York pianist backpacks overland from Spain to Japan, then builds a remote cabin in Northern Canada to create a new form of music." This is true, I suppose, in a strict narrative sense. Yet, there is much more to Cabin Music. I fear, perhaps, that the fullness of Cabin Music will get lost in our efforts to somehow define it. Cabin Music may at times feel like an avant-garde documentary piece best experienced on the most immersive screen possible, yet it shouldn't be regarded as one of "those" IMAX documentaries.
Again, it's much more.
Cabin Music is intimate yet universal. Cabin Music feels both deeply personal yet also meant to be shared. Cabin Music challenges the senses while also intriguing the mind. Cabin Music is the work of someone who had grand ambitions yet it also feels like the work of someone determined to get down to the roots of himself, his artistry, and the world around him.
A sublime fusion of piano performance, environment, cinematography, sound recording, and film montage weave themselves together into a subconscious tapestry of experience and being inviting us not just into the cabin but into all the spaces and places that constructed the life of the cabin. These spaces and places come alive in Cabin Music, at times rather matter-of-factly and other times through aural immersion and enveloping of all the senses.
Cabin Music will have its world premiere this very night, November 13th, in the Cinépolis Chelsea in the U.S. Competition of DOC NYC. Executive Produced by Emmy award-winning Julian Cautherley (Maya and the Wave, The Crash Reel), Cabin Music follows Carson's October 28 release of his debut album The Story of Birds on Bright Shiny Things and Carson’s sold out performance in the Crypt of the Church of the Intercession in Harlem.
Cabin Music will be most appreciated by those given to cinematic surrender, those less concerned with structured narrative and definition and more willing to allow the experience to become what it is meant to be for them. Cabin Music will be experienced differently by everyone as is nearly always true of life lessons, universal energies, and communion in every sense of the word.
Carson himself writes of Cabin Music “the vision came in two parts: I would travel around the earth, and then build a cabin to create my music. My goal was to play the whole piano at once, but to do it in a way that was also harmonious and tranquil—in the same way that a single breeze can cause all the leaves of a forest to dance and tremble in unison.”
Indeed, those who surrender themselves to the cinematic wonder that is Cabin Music will feel as if they are somehow experiencing the harmonies of humanity and nature, life experience and simply being. Destined to be a DOC NYC favorite and one of the year's most inspired and immersive documentaries, Cabin Music celebrates the creative spirit and the world that connects it to every single one of us.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic