In a year of no concerts, quarantine, isolation, and Zoom meetings being the closest thing to getting together, it seems as though this may not have been the best time to start your own record label. Tom McDowell begs to differ.
McDowell makes music under the name Dream Division, and has released several albums and EPs over the last few years. Synth-heavy with sci fi and horror vibes abound, Dream Division created narrative heavy albums that explored ideas found in both classic 70s horror scores as well as the deep space drifts of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Vangelis.
This past summer Tom McDowell launched his own record label, Library of the Occult. LOTO released records that were heavy on vibes and eager to walk you into their worlds. 70s electronic, early prog, classic Gothic literature, video game soundtracks, seances, and psych rock were a few touchstones that acted as inspirations for the five releases on Library of the Occult this past year. All five albums were a success, and each release was its own unique trip that gave the listener a world to get lost in.
I wanted to take a moment and look back on the releases of Library of the Occult, and shine a black light on the albums. If you haven’t yet explored the hollowed halls of Tom McDowell’s Gothic and sordid library, let me be your guide.
Dream Divsion’s The Devil Rides Out
An album that acts as an imagined soundtrack to Dennis Wheatley’s Gothic literary masterpiece, The Devil Rides Out gives you just the right amount of dread and mystery. Hazy synths and loads of atmosphere, The Devil Rides Out is a dark and fitting extension of Dream Division’s auditory museum.
“A collection of cues and soundscapes composed as an audio companion to the Dennis Wheatley Novel ‘THE DEVIL RIDES OUT’. Recorded on the synthesizer during the winter of 2019 in London, England” -Library of the Occult
Ogre’s Gates of Nessus
Robin Ogden, aka Ogre, was tapped by McDowell to make a record for LOTO. The result was the dark and alluring Gates of Nessus, a collection of heavy synth numbers that played off the vibe set forth by Dream Division, but took inspiration more so from classic D&D basement sessions, ratty sci fi paperbacks, and all those other things teens did to have fun in the late 70s and early 80s. Exquisite and dreamy.
“Inspired by Gene Wolfe’s The Book Of The New Sun, Hidetaka Miyazaki’s Dark Souls, Kentaro Miura’ Berserk, Fighting Fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons, and many other great adventures.” -Library of the Occult
Timothy Fife’s Transcommunication
On release three of 2020 for Library of the Occult, Timothy Fife takes us into the world of seances and reaching out to the other side. Transcommunication locks into Fife’s ability to conjure both the macabre and the spatial. Like his previous work on his debut Black Carbon as well as his split with Repeated Viewing, Timothy Fife gives us a sonic portal to a vast and mysterious world. A place where 70s horror and Giallo intermingle with the deep space drifts of Froese, which makes for an enlightening ride.
“Inspired by the Raudive Diode and the works of early electronic artists who dealt with occultism.” -Library of the Occult
The Psychic Circle’s View From The Magician’s Window
The Psychic Circle was the outlier in the Library of the Occult canon. Where what came before was heavily synth-oriented, this new project was abound with late 60s psych. Touches of Goblin, Giallo soundtracks, psychedelic flourishes, and even moments of Black Sabbath gone Village Green. Tom McDowell opened his doors to new vibes and those vibes were on point.
“A 70’s odyssey of moog infused cosmic krautrock and psychedelic baroque on this debut record from ‘The Psychic Circle’” -Library of the Occult
Dream Division’s Death Walks On Nitrate
The last LOTO release of the year was the fantastically mad score to the the short film Death Walks On Nitrate. Dream Division drops into Italian psych, Goblin’s prog tendencies, early King Crimson, and fever dreams on this manic shot of buzzing mania. It’s like jazz turned inside out, set on fire, and tamped down with LSD-soaked towels. Not to be missed.
“Dream Division’s original score to Kevin Fermini’s ‘Death Walks on Nitrate’ – a 2020 FrightFest selection – will plunge you head first into a chromatically saturated, Argento-colored world of suspense, witchcraft, and analog film.” – Dj Alfonso – Rendezvous La
Tom McDowell made the most of a frantic, confusing, and disturbing year. He took the lemons of 2020 and turned them into a shimmering goblet of lemon-flavored absinthe. If you haven’t dived in yet, now is the time. Library of the Occult is one pocket of shadow and darkness well worth getting lost in.