PEACE DIVISION – BLACKLIGHT SLEAZE
In the underground scene, music is cyclic. Seeing Luciano at an airtight packed Brixton Electric in 2015, there he was playing monstrous Tribal House. Shocked I was to say the least. Circa the turn of the millennium, on the other side of the genre-dominating Trance was Tribal and Progressive House. There has been debate regarding the two being the same, but that’s an argument for another day. Rolling drums, big breakdowns, horror vocals, Steve Lawler claimed it fell off due to it becoming ‘pop’ . A sound championed by Sasha, Nick Warren, Dave Seaman and Danny Tenaglia was loved no more. Central to the rise of the genre was Peace Division with Tenaglia even claiming theirs were that tracks he’d play most. Their name was behind hits like ‘Tribal Phunk‘, a track ‘Absolutely hammered by Carl Cox’ according to one Discogs commentator. Releasing a banging LP on Low Pressings, Clive Henry and Justin Drake – the duo behind the name, would also take the exit route. With sublime sampling prowess and an acute ear for quality drums, you could tell these guys would master whatever they touched. The minimal cuts they did end up making turned out be mind-melters. ‘Voodoo (It’s In The Wall)‘ is so good you will trip out even when sober. Listening to a Marco Carola Music On set, however, I was recently reintroduced to Blacklight Sleaze. Released in 2005 on NRK, it’s a barnstorming foray into a groggy, sleazy world. As seen on the Italian DJ’s set, you can see how damaging it is on a dancefloor to this day.
Asked by Mixmag Hungary, Peace Division gave a candid account of never wanting to be associated with a single style. ‘Blacklight Sleaze’ fits into such philosophy. What we can say though, is the same progressive, deep, raw, tranced out vibe is displayed on John Digweed’s Global Underground LA CD. This year Electronic Groove didn’t call it one of the best recorded music compilations of all time for no reason. These remnants morph well into the true tech house skeleton that birthed ‘Blacklight Sleaze’. From the off, the listener is thrown off the plane into a vortex of stormy black clouds. Panned, gloomy synths grapple the ears, throwing each foot down to the floor without escape. It’s an intoxicating soundscape. The track carries the same menace as Pantha Du Prince’s ‘Behind The Stars‘. Drums clap with puff of charcoal smoke. Harmonised arps rotate, and with the track at 120bpm, this is maintained afloat at a pace that gives focus to the dancer. With a tension which is held through the additional synth pad, it pierces the cerebral like a diamond-cutting laser. Over the top a sleazy female vocal adds panache. ‘Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here, In the middle of this Times Square booth, Filled with smoke and damp carpet’ she drools. These lyrics embolden the murky nature of the track. After the main track settles down, the accentuated pads mutate to turn this track into a fully raging monster.
‘Blacklight Sleaze’ was rereleased by Dogmatik a few years ago, containing backing updates from Dyed Soundorom, Alex Arnout and Gerd. Popular in Berghain, Radio Slave’s version was called ‘timeless’ by Rødhad. Much can be said about the original. ‘Blacklight Sleaze’’s sound influenced a generation. Peace Division no longer lives, but Clive Henry still kicks on. An erudite OG from the Circoloco DC10 crew, he still maintains this slugged out sound. Paradise is one such party that could be summarised by this track. Playing it will have deleterious effects on the dancefloor, just like it did back when it was first released.