Tuesday 22 August 2023

Howye - No Suffocating

Labels: Polar Summer

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 09 Dec 2015


1. Comes And Goes

2. Kamchatka

3. Hide And Fight

4. Unnecessary Sediments

5. Bleeding

6. Blow Sky High

7. No Suffocating

8. Receiving Line (Title Fight Cover)

Not done one of these Polar Summer posts for a little bit. Also, please can you remind me not to start anymore of these label roster review series thingies. I've got enough on with those I'm already committed too, alongside my sporadic schedule. For those who missed my first two reviews in this lil series, I went a bit crazy about Russian DIY label Polar Summer earlier this year. I subsequently started listening to their back catalogue and even ordered quite a few of their physical releases from a European distro (Dingleberry Records). I have 14 Polar Summer releases in my collection currently, which barely scratches the surface but I'm still stoked about them!

Attempting (and failing) to flex aside, I'm trying to write this review series in release number order and this one is ps#3. It features eight tracks by Tomsk, Siberia's Howye, which I think is the band's only release to date. I can't find any others anyway (please reach out of there are more). Howye plays (played) emo/shoegaze and even covered US punk band Title Fight.

Life’s rich tapestry set to music would probably just sound like white noise used as part of sedition or torture, such is the bleak reality that we currently exist in. Looking back seems apt then as this is exactly what I’m doing. No Suffocating was originally released digitally by Howye in December 2015 before Polar Summer committed it to tape the following year. Having not known what to expect from the first two of PS’s back catalogue, this release is no different. Slow, melodic and clean tones greet you on opener ‘Comes And Goes’. It’s song-title also describes the meandering waves of instrumentation and vocals that make it. Introspective but also very enjoyable, with a smattering of dower post-punk thrown in for good measure.

‘Kamchatka’ begins like an upbeat punk-rock song upon hearing it’s first bars, but it soon retreats, leaving more instrument-heavy emo/shoegaze in it’s wake. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. There’s plenty to dive into here and despite the deeper position of the vocals in the mix, when the guitars let loose they light things up. The more time you spend with the album, the more it’s layers and melodies wash over you. ‘Hide And Fight’ glides along in an early morning haze of bright treble and subtle dissonance, only clearing to bring you back to reality for a second.

The songs on No Suffocating don’t last all that long, leaving their mark succinctly. ‘Unnecessary Sentiments’ is the perfect example of that. It’s hard to accurately describe why but it’s easier-listening sensibilities flourish beyond words. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. As before, the album’s latter half is equally as pensive in places. ‘Bleeding’ eschews any images of gore and instead offers a life-affirming glimpse into a group making music that they believe in, that’s authentic and emotive.

‘Blow Sky High’ is a little more on the art/avant-garde end of the spectrum and I love it! Maybe it’s just how it hits me but I could think of worse songs to draw listeners back in than this one. The album’s penultimate song is the title-tack ‘No Suffocating’ and the double-layered harmonies coupled with the more up-front percussion lays down a real marker for what Howye could have been. To think that a band this good could exist in a corner of the world so cold and bleak is mind-blowing to me. 

Closing it all with their take on Title Fight’s ‘Receiving Line’ gives a subtle clue as to the band’s collective age when writing/recording for this album commenced, but it also shows that they can make a song their own in a beautiful way. Nothing else needs to be said really. What are the chances of scoring this on tape in the wild?.

You can stream and purchase No Suffocating as a name-your-price download from Howye's bandcamp page below:-

Tape copies are long sold out.

Howye - https://vk.com/howye

Polar Summer - https://www.instagram.com/polarxsummer/

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