Electronic musician Keith Fullerton Whitman has his hands full in I Dream Of Wires.
I DREAM OF WIRES (Robert Fantinatto, Jason Amm). See listings. Rating: NN
The subject of this largely talking-head doc is the "machine that demands to be touched": the mighty modular synthesizer.
I Dream Of Wires chronicles the instrument's history from Don Buchla and Robert Moog's colossal first models to its widespread adoption by popular musicians to its current niche-market renaissance. The nerdy affection driving this homage to analog electronics is endearing, but it's nearly impossible to imagine anyone but gearheads sticking with the film for its duration.
The narration is by beloved CBC Radio broadcaster Patti Schmidt, whose cool delivery feels right for this story of brave old waves that still sound new. The film's many interviewees include Morton Subotnick, Gary Numan, Vince Clarke, Trent Reznor and members of Throbbing Gristle and Skinny Puppy. (Alas, there's no Eno.) Much of what they have to share is jargon-laden.
As for visual allure, well, let's just say you'd better like knobs. Vast banks of switches, dials, plugs and cables are pretty much all there is to behold, but no doubt there's a contingent who involuntarily salivate at the sight of this stuff. At times the film plays like a promotional video for various hardware manufacturers.
Saturday (August 23) at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See listing.
See interview with co-director Jason Amm.