Pendle Coven: Self-Assessment

Pendle Coven's work probably won't sway the non-dub techno fan, but skipping out on Self-Assessment for that reason is just silly.

Pendle Coven


Label: Modern Love
US Release Date: 2009-04-14
UK Release Date: 2009-03-09
Label website
Artist website

Just after a few minutes of what could very well be clanging guitar pickups and restrained feedback, Manchester, UK producer duo Pendle Coven gets down into it. The part previously released, part new minimal dub techno (and related sound artistry) on Self-Assessment is more comforting than it is menacing. Pendle Coven members DJ Miles and MLZ often leave corners gaping, only to then flood them with grim melodies and long-loitering claps, so that when these works don't mystify with headphones-geared ambience, they offer respectable late-night listening.

Five of the Self-Assessment pieces won't be new to Modern Love followers. This is the debut full-length from Pendle Coven, functioning also as a sampler of their 12" releases, beginning with 2005's Marriage of Convenience EP. "Modern Mode", a Marriage B-side, thankfully appears for the first time on CD here. Its comparatively "bigger" presence owes to a pugnacious house kick and hi hats, while warm, disconnected synth swells float up around the percussion, not unlike DeepChord's Vantage Isle Sessions or Claro Intelecto's more direct dancefloor work.

In a flurry of aquatic echoes and clipped, jagged-edged beats, Pendle Coven's 2005-era dubstep effort goes over powerfully. "Unit 6" shifts and shudders over its four and a half minutes, with an understated wobble and clinks that wouldn't sound out of place on Scuba's A Mutual Antipathy. It's severe, and after having heard this one, I'd honestly wondered why these guys don't produce more dubstep. Although the Self-Assessment collection won't catch on immediately for non-dub techno enthusiasts -- when one finally warms to it, Pendle Coven's sound pays off in textured, interesting subtlety.


This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.