I Dream Of Wires: Hardcore Edition can be viewed as a 4 hour exploration of "the rise, fall and rise again of modular synthesizers." But it's really laid out as two separate documentaries. Part 1 covers the rise modular synthesizers in the 1960s through the 1970s, and their fall as more portable easy to understand music synthesizers became available in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. This part alone is worth the price of admission, it is an excellent and engaging look at the companies, personalities and passions that spurred the birth of an industry; that took music synthesis out of the rarified environments of academia and into the world of commercial pop culture. Interviews include people directly involved in the creation of these magical musical monster machines, as well as musicians from both academia (Morton Subotnick) and popular music (Gary Numan, Daniel Miller, Trent Reznor, etc.). This part of the film is of interest not just to modular synthesizer fans, but anyone at all interested in music history, music instrument design, or electronic music in any of its myriad styles.
Part 2 deals with the reemergence of modular synthesis and has a completely different feel and stylistic direction than the first, historical, part. It is expressed as a journey through the wild and wildly exploding (albeit boutique) modular synthesis world that exists today: a world populated by tiny one-person (or few-person) companies driven mainly by the love of their products rather than bottom line profits; do-it-yourselfers who build these exotic instruments for the sheer joy of expression and exploration; musicians and artists searching for a connection to the past, a more direct physical connection to the music making process, or simply a new way of experiencing music; a world populated by an extremely diverse set of people, all turning to modular synthesizers for an equally diverse set of reasons. This is a documentary about vibrancy, diversity and potentiality. Interviews in this part continue to include famous personalities, but also branches out into the small but enthusiastic worldwide community of modular synthesizer manufacturers and users. This part of the documentary shows but a tip of the modular synth iceberg, but I think it documents well the state of the industry: untamed, fragmented, divergent, creative and expanding.
The production values throughout are excellent throughout. The soundtrack is awesome. The eye candy (for synth fans like me) is amazing. The content informative and entertaining.