Tom McDowell is a man that doesn’t rest. As Dream Division he is constantly writing, recording, and creating musical worlds of darkness and beauty. Heavy synth-based music that covers the far reaches of space to dark catacombs filled with spirits long trapped in our world. His work touches on classic horror and sci-fi scores of the 70s and 80s while also capturing the dark beauty of Berlin School and Komische artists of the 70s. McDowell is a forward-thinking composer of dark electronic and retro-futuristic synth.
With the launch of his very own label Library of the Occult McDowell has been busy dropping records from Ogre and Timothy Fife(out Oct. 2nd.) He even had time to put out a new Dream Division record called The Devil Rides Out as his flagship LOTO release. Not to sit on his laurels, McDowell has another Dream Division album dropping on October 2nd. This time he’s releasing with Burning Witches Records. Beyond the Mirror’s Image is a soundtrack for overcast skies and chilled air. It’s a record for falling leaves and shadowy worlds just beyond our reach.
With Beyond the Mirror’s Image Dream Division goes into almost prog territory. Along with the dense layers of synth, drums and guitar are prominent on this record. “Illusion” locks into a steady groove that is reminiscent of classic Goblin and Fabio Frizzi. The track builds to Gothic highs before descending into buzzing synth drones. “Looking Glass” is all dread and menace. No daylight breaks through this one. “Reflections” brings to mind Zombi and Pinkish Black in the aggressive quality within the drum and synth interplay. “Labyrinth” works on a primal level, building a sonic wall of buzz saw synth noise with a solid rhythm section. It ends in a sort of sonic madness.
McDowell knows just where to go, how far to go, and how dark to take it when it comes to the music world of Dream Division. You can over do it when it comes to dark synth music. In order to make it truly effective and engaging you need to know when to say when. McDowell has the right touch. Something like the gorgeous and melancholy “Chamber of Smoke and Mirrors” feels like walking into another realm altogether. We go from dropping into an abyss of noise to this baroque chamber music that sounds like part Chopin and part Wendy Carlos. There seems to be this plethora of inspiration and intrigue within this track; touches of Hammer horror films, HP Lovecraft, countryside seances, and haunted harpsichord music all gather together and hold hands in this exquisite track. This is the true genius of Dream Division.
There’s not a single misstep on Beyond the Mirror’s Image. There never is with Dream Division. If 70s Italian horror scores, 80s slashers, dark synth, 70s prog rock, and songs that put you in their world are your thing, Dream Division’s Beyond the Mirror’s Image is the album for you. It’s your October soundtrack and year-long dark secret.
8.1 out of 10
Listen to opening track “Illusion” below, then hit up Burning Witches Records Friday October 2nd and snag up Dream Division’s newest opus.