William Eggleston

512 (Secretly Canadian)

Contact Yuri Kwon about William Eggleston

Famed American photographer William Eggleston announces his new album, 512, out November 3rd on Secretly Canadian, and presents its lead single, “Improvisation.” Produced by Tom Lunt, 512 embraces traditional pop, folk, and gospel styles more directly in a collection of four standard tunes, along with a free improvisation and a side long fantasia on a gospel standard. Making a departure from the free-wheeling soliloquies of Eggelston’s debut Musik (2017), which he also produced, Lunt invited musicians Sam Amidon and Leo Abrahams to collaborate on 512. This is what led to Brian Eno performing bells on “Improvisation,” the elegant introduction to 512’s piano-driven palette. It is gentle yet thrilling; guided by Eggleston’s serene piano and Eno’s subtle percussion, “Improvisation”  evokes an off-the-cuff alchemy, stretching in unexpected ways across its 3 minutes.


512 was produced in one day in 2018 in Memphis, and is named after the room in which Eggleston sat down to record. Per his lifelong tradition, many of the tracks on 512 feature Eggleston’s take on beloved American songs, including “Ol’ Man River,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “Onward Christian Soldiers.” The resulting 512 is a sparse, stark work of an American icon holding a mirror to the music that has shaped his country, and in turn, himself. “I’ve never heard anything like it,” Eggleston said, grinning. “It’s very modern.”


Alongside Eno on today’s “Improvisation,” 512 also features contributions from Amidon (fiddle/banjo), Matana Robers (saxophone), Abrahams (organ/synthesizer/electric guitar), Mikele Montolli (bass), and Seb Rockford (drums). 512 was mastered by Michal Kupicz, and features six new compositions and improvisations performed by Eggeleston on the piano.


Eggleston — born and raised  in Memphis, Tennessee — is widely considered to be the most important photographer of the late 20th century, but he often says that he feels music is his first calling. To him, it is as much a part of him as photography. Eggleston discovered the piano in his Mississippi childhood home, and carried the passion forth his entire life, performing his takes on classical music and standards for friends and family. Eggleston’s own music went largely unheard by the general public until the release of Musik.


Musik announced the arrival of Eggleston the musician: a spontaneous creator who synthesized – quite literally, with his Korg O1/W FD digital keyboard – a deeply personal and profoundly powerful body of work. His solo fantasias reflected influences absorbed from a lifetime’s exposure to the compositions of classical-music masters like Bach and Handel, folk and country staples, the Great American Songbook, gospel, and more, all processed through the filters of a doggedly idiosyncratic artist’s sensibilities. The New York Times said, “Musik does have a Bachian sense of grandeur; the album is assertive and confident, with a swagger that might well be linked to the unpressured way it was recorded, to document impromptu playing.”


You could say that what resulted, here and throughout 512, is art very much akin to Eggleston’s world-changing photography: something that feels instantly familiar at first brush, yet over time and with closer examination reveals hidden depths. It’s an artistry hidden in plain sight, a subtle magic that demands contemplation.


What’s more, the approach taken by Lunt, Amidon, and Abraham on “512” provided an opportunity for Eggleston himself to experience the surprise and delight his art has provided for countless others.