Dream Division works within the electronic/heavy synth world, but stands apart from the crowd. The one-man project is helmed by UK musician and producer Tom McDowell, and he makes a brand of interstellar, cosmic dread all his very own. Since 2017 McDowell has been putting out wobbly, DIY occult and sci-fi-inspired sounds and his music falls into the same sonic brilliance as projects like Pentagram Home Video, Pye Corner Audio, and Timothy Fife. Albums like Mosura and Transcend were released with UK imprint Polytechnic Youth, while Live From Camp Arawak and 48°55’14.2″N were self-released. McDowell took the big step of starting his own imprint called Library of the Occult, and his first release is the new Dream Division album.
The Devil Rides Out is a musical companion to the 1934 novel by Dennis Wheatley. The album sees Dream Division stepping back into the dark occult vibes of Vulture EP and bringing to life Wheatley’s classic tale of black magic and the occult. It’s also a stellar stepping off point to what is going to be an exciting new record label.
“Sounds of the dark arts”.
That’s how Library of the Occult describes the vibe the record label wants to capture, and on The Devil Rides Out that vibes is on full display. “The Power of Light” opens the mood of Gothic horror. A cross between Walter Rizatti and Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave’s Phantasm score. You can almost see the flickering of a candle’s flame on a stone wall as the track plays. It’s both melancholy and macabre. “The Silent House” wavers like a specter reaching out from the other side, beckoning you to join them. “The Secret Art” brings grandiose strings and dream-like qualities to the forefront. McDowell locks into the sound of the unknown here; dreamy bells, tinkling keys, and otherworldly melodies descend to take us to the world of Duc de Richleau, Rex van Ryn, Simon Aaron and Richard Eaton.
“The Road To Sabbat” has a hypnotic quality to it, as if conjuring a spell. Ethereal noise and an almost Wendy Carlos vibe in the synth line that rises from the ghostly noise. “The Gateway To The Pit” breathes with animated life, conjuring dark passages and desperation. “Out Into The Fog” closes the tale of good versus evil, bringing this tale of sound and darkness to a close.
The Devil Rides Out is a masterpiece of dark vibes and twisted melancholy. Dream Division’s newest long player shows Tom McDowell in prime form, taking a classic piece of cult literature and giving it circuital life. A sonic experiment of majestic darkness and macabre melancholy. A masterful ode to Dennis Wheatley’s vision of friendship, black magic, and those things that live in the shadows.
8.3 out of 10
The Devil Rides Out is out now on Library of the Occult. Buy it here.