Ode To The Witch : A Eulogy For Burning Witches Records

I think it was summer of 2017 when I first heard of Burning Witches Records. It was somehow discovering Maine’s beautiful album V and that BWR was where I could find it on vinyl, which I immediately purchased. At that point BWR was on my radar. I deep dived into Burning Tapes, Deathcount in Silicon Valley, All Of Them Witches, and the label’s Halloween comp, Witches Halloween Brew.

The music the label put out landed firmly in horror-adjacent territory, and I ate it up. Growing up in the late 70s and early 80s and being a horror fiend since the first time I saw Carpenter’s Halloween(or maybe it was seeing Food Of The Gods at the drive-in when I was 5) on network television the music of horror was just as important. I can go back and watch Fulci flicks and not really be blown away like I was when I was 12 watching them in the middle of the night on a scuzzy VHS tape, but hearing Fabio Frizzi and Walter Rizzati scores 20 years later somehow made those movies seem magical. They ingrained the feelings I had as a kid deep in my head and heart, and BWR locked into that feeling with their releases.

In 2018 I was a fully fledged fanboy of Burning Witches Records, and I feel this was the magical year for the label. Early in 2018 I’d gotten to know the label co-runners, Darren Page(Burning Tapes) and Gary Dimes(All Of Them Witches.) They were two incredibly nice and passionate guys that wanted to put music out that they dug, simple as that. I think it might have started as a means to put their own work out, but it quickly and organically grew into something special. A community of like-minded musicians and fans that bonded over horror films, electronic music, and the power of the synth.

2018 saw releases from Isvisible/Isinvisible(self-titled), Xander Harris(Villains Of Romance), Deadly Avenger(I Am Godzilla, You Are Japan), D.A.L.I(When Haro Met Sally), Graham Reznick(R0B0PHAS1A), Alone In The Woods(Self-Titled), Thomas Ragsdale(Self Zero), the fantastic RSD compilation Communion and the epic Halloween release Pieces, which saw two artists each covering a whole cassette side. 2019 had Cory Kilduff(When It All Gets To Be Too Much) Galactic Protector(Evening), Deadly Avenger(Your God Is Too Small) Burning Tapes dark and beautiful Black Lake score, Daniel Davies great Soeurs De Glisse score, and the Repeated Viewing/Timothy Fife collaboration Repeated Viewing and Timothy Fife Explore Paranormal Sounds of the Synthesizer.

These were all immense electronic LPs with concepts, narratives, fully-formed worlds the listener could fall into. The phrase “imagined soundtrack” has a bit of a stink to it these days for me. I appreciated it initially because the idea behind it was cool. A dark electronic album made mostly with vintage synth and drum sounds that paid homage to the classic synthesizer score of yesteryear. And it was fun seeing what sort of concepts the artists could come up with. Repeated Viewing, imo, is the master of the imagined soundtrack(hit up Spun Out Of Control or his BC page if you’re not familiar). I feel Alan’s music, along with the exquisite album art made by maestro graphic designer Eric Adrian Lee completely transported you into the world’s Repeated Viewing created musically.

There are other great electronic musicians that do the imagined soundtrack right, but in the wake of these initial monumental releases there were plenty of albums that came out in that same bracket that just weren’t, well, good. Just because you can afford the toys doesn’t mean you can play.

Anyways, I’m rambling(ranting).

I never saw BWR as a spot for imagined soundtracks, and all the records I listed above transcended that genre and were just fucking great albums. Albums I obsessed over, wrote about, and even interviewed the artists. I did whatever I could to spread the word about the label and the artists on it. Finding the Burning Witches Records community was like finding this pack of friends I didn’t know I had. And not only friends but these fantastic musicians and creators that made music I loved.

Seriously, there’s some all-timers for me that came out via Darren and Gary’s Burning Witches Records. Graham Reznick’s R0B0PHAS1A, D.A.L.I.’s When Haro Met Sally, Xander’s Villains Of Romance, Cory Kilduff’s When It All Gets To Be Too Much, Galactic Emperor’s Evening, and of course Maine’s V. These are records I go back to often(very often.) There’s a relevancy to them. A timeless quality that I’ve locked into on a very personal level. Putting them on feels like going back in time to when I first heard them. That whole whirlwind of finding myself discovering great electronic artists that were popping up on the BWR roster.

The label continued to put out great albums despite the wreck that was 2020. Fantastic albums by Hunter Complex, Rory Mohon, Dream Division, and BWR even got further into releasing scores for films as well. They were expanding the idea of what a BWR release was. Even just last year BWR released amazing new albums from Cory Kilduff(You Will Be Safe) and Hunter Complex(Airports and Ports).

A couple years ago Gary Dimes dropped out of the Burning Witches Records atmosphere entirely, which left Darren Page to do most of the heavy lifting. I can only imagine what kind of stress and work it would be to be running a label kind of on your own, AFTER it’s been established and four or five years in. After some paring down Darren decided it was time to put BWR to rest.

I 100% understand why the label is shutting its doors. After 2020 everything has changed. Not only that, but people change, vibes change, and the music community at large changes. And most importantly, evolving and expanding what you do is a good thing. Darren Page is moving on to a new label, Usuper Records. I’m not sure what it’s going to be, but I am certain it’s going to be great. Darren mastered a good portion of the BWR releases and those albums are some of the best sounding records I own. He’s a sonic wizard, so whatever he puts his hands on it’s going to be great. You can follow Usuper Records on Instagram here.

In closing, I’d just like to let Darren and Gary(wherever he may be) know that Burning Witches Records left an indelible mark on my head and heart. Discovering BWR back in 2017 opened so many doors for me, and allowed me the opportunity to get to know these super cool, super talented, and super down-to-earth musicians that otherwise I never would have. That label got me excited about music again. Not that I wasn’t excited about music before, but the label(like all great labels) had their own very specific aesthetic and vibe.

It was the coolest clubhouse ever; where the walls were covered in classic horror movie posters, a library filled with dusty old VHS tapes that covered the gamut from movie monsters to slashers to the supernatural, and a record collection to die for.

Long live the witch. Long live BWR.

Most of their physical media is gone, but digital lives on forever. If you want to go explore hit up Burning Witches Records’ Bandcamp page and download some amazing music. Don’t wait too long, though. Maybe even those zeros and ones will disappear eventually.

2 thoughts on “Ode To The Witch : A Eulogy For Burning Witches Records

    1. If you were a fan of BMX and skateboarding in the 80s you should give it a spin. Love letter to that stuff.

      BWR was mostly instrumental electronic music, heavy on 80s synth stuff. If any of those words got your Spidey senses tingling go check em out.

      Liked by 1 person

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