Ralph White + Thor Harris
Tossing Pebbles on the Sleeping Beast (Self Sabotage Records)
Reviewed by Tim Stegall, Fri., April 22, 2016
Decidedly uneasy listening that's sweet on the ears, Tossing Pebbles on the Sleeping Beast indulges in homespun experimentation. Ex-Bad Liver fiddler and autodidact folklorist Ralph White teams up with Swans percussive force Thor Harris to jam on and around a brace of compositions by the former, the results built to thrill while also withstanding the most stringent efforts at description. Weirdgrass? There's an unequivocal pulse of bluegrass, with White's clawhammer banjo and high mountain vocals centering the tracks, which are then embellished with his and Harris' non-traditional instrumental colorizations. African-Americana? Plenty of the former is offered via kalimba and djembe. Yet to hear White take a topical turn on the opening "Misinformation Shuffle" (complete with Alex Jones sample), or languish aloud across "Lay Me Low," and then wordlessly invent new worlds with Harris on "The Incredible Grace of Renate" is evidence of some sort of divine order.