Album Review: Himmelsblå by Råå

It’s one thing to find a new band that you are into, but finding a new label is next level. In some ways you wish you hadn’t because you just know that it is going to be expensive, and that you are going to have to find the time to really take in what they have to offer. This is clearly the sort of first world problem that hardly warrants discussion… nevertheless it does underline that there is still loads of great undiscovered music there… and, like a zen novice, I really don’t know what I think of that.

The label in question is Malmö Inre of Sweden, which I was put on to by Rickard of Flowers Must Die. A quick browse through the label’s website and soundcloud revealed all sorts of tasty stuff, and a vinyl order was swiftly despatched. I have also included a couple of Malmo Inre tracks on my most recent Spotify playlist, from the EP being reviewed here and from ‘Monika’ by Golden Ivy…

‘Himmelsblå’ is an EP of four cover versions which are all given a very bespoke treatment from Råå, a collective of musicians who showcase some of their influences through these choices, as you would expect.

First up is an interpretation of Follakzoid’s ‘Gleich’, entitled ‘Samma Lika’ (I assume this is a direct translation). Before you know this you get a feeling that you’ve heard this before as Råå have really captured the hazy, spacey, laconic approach of the Chilean band, but then as the horn comes in the difference really begin to appear and gives it a whole new jazz-like dimension. This really is a lovely version which is every bit as affective as the original.

After that is ‘Himmelsblå’, after Wolfgang Reichmann’s ‘Himmelblau’ which came out on his posthumously released ‘Wunderbar’ album in 1978 (after Reichmann was randomly and tragically stabbed in the street by a drunk). This interpretation is interesting because it arguably takes it back to the motorik of Reichmann’s previous collaborators such as Michael Rother and Wolfgang Flür. If you’ve never heard the original you can find it here.

The next one took me right back. I cannot remember the last time I heard ‘Porpoise’ by The Pale Saints (from the 1991 album ‘Flesh Balloon’)… and now I’m going to have to find even more time to go back to it because it sounds even more amazing than I remember it. As for the Råå version, as you may have gathered by now, it is more in the direction of krautrock and jazz than the original… but in a way that makes you actually want to here both versions of the song, over and again… something of a common theme for the tracks on this EP.

Last up is a cover of ‘Solen (Parallellt eller 90 grader)’, simply names ‘Solen’ here, from Bo Hansson’s 1972 album ‘Ur trollkarlens hatt’. The original is already a wonderful and mellow track that can take you off to all sorts of lovely places such is its gentle psychedelic nature. So this, for me, is the most difficult of the four for Råå to try to make an impact on. Crucially they definitely go with the flow here and give us something that has clear parallels to the original while taking us on some extremely picturesque diversions along the way.

I am generally not a big fan of cover versions, and even less when they are collected together on one release. These four tracks, however, work just beautifully. They are all ones that I have at best not heard for a while and so had to go back to the source to remind myself. When I did I found that on each occasion Råå had done a loving and intricate job of working their own influence on the music. Seriously I could listen to these four tracks all day for a week… if only there were time.

‘Himmelsblå’ is released by Malmo Inre, and is available here.



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