Boomkat Product Review:
Celebrated American photographer William Eggleston wrote '512' in his Memphis apartment, surrounded by vintage tube amplifiers, cameras and a huge Bosendorfer grand piano. This prompted him to re-imagine standards like 'Over the Rainbow' and 'Ol' Man River' as dawdling, deliberate improvisations. Featuring Brian Eno on bells, no less.
While Eggleston is best known for his award-winning imagery, he said in 2017 - when Secretly Canadian released his debut anthology 'Musik' - that he felt as if music was his first calling. He played host to various celebrity visitors in his modest apartment (Dennis Hopper and Paul McCartney are mentioned in the accompanying press release), who would often stay to listen to him perform on the piano. These recordings are impressively naked, but you can hear the liveliness of the space in the air - the captures aren't particularly clean, with dogs barking in the background and traffic noise whirring over the pedal and key sounds. There's occasional accompaniment, maybe a fiddle, drum or a plucked double bass, but Eggleston's piano is front and center, played confidently and emotionally.
The songs are familiar, but they're not rendered in the expected manner. Eggleston approaches each as a starting point, taking them where they need to go, not where they should go. '512' is produced by Tom Lunt whose touch is restrained. Brian Eno's contribution is even more subtle, adding bells that are so delicate they're barely audible. It's worth staying for the extended closing track, an 18-minute rendition of 'Onward Christian Soldiers' that crumples and unfolds in its own time, with percussion appearing like raindrops on a sunny day.