Orbits and Riffs (ephemeraensemble.com)
I presume a personal interest in astronomy has inspired Kenya Wilkins to write pieces about planets, moons, comets, and more, realised by her own piano and flute, Will Gilbert’s trumpet and Elsen Price’s double bass and loops. Alongside the compositions this arresting, genre-blurring double album contains group improvisations and the use of eerie ‘field recordings’ of deepspace radio signals. Rather than being all soothing, celestial ambience, however, the upshot is often disquieting music of massive breadth and sometimes high drama. Among the many striking pieces is Craters of Rhea (Saturn’s heavily pock-marked second-largest moon), performed by Price’s simultaneously sumptuous and unnerving looped bass. Wilkins also has a leavening lighter side that bursts into the foreground as full-blown humour on Red Children, the third part of a Mars suite.