Today’s technological landscape offers electronic music makers tools that don’t even occupy physical space outside of a computer screen, but there’s another end of the synthesizer spectrum that’s saluted in the documentary I Dream of Wires. The modular synth, that great beast teeming with towers of knobs, cables, and patch bays, was the first form of synthesizer to be introduced back in the ’60s, but it has come back into vogue over the years and been embraced by a new generation of musicians. The film by Robert Fantinatto and Jason Amm delves deeply into the history of the instrument, offering both a historical and musical perspective on its legacy.
Available on iTunes on July 21 and on DVD on August 4 via First Run Features, I Dream of Wires includes interviews with host of electronic musicians, from Vince Clarke and Trent Reznor to Gary Numan and Carl Craig, getting into the nitty gritty of modular synths’ appeal and applications. But it’s not a story of the past, it’s one that’s still going on —advances continue to be made in modular synth technology as more and more people get into it, so it’s actually as much a peek into the future as anything else.