Dreaming Of Wires: The Rise And Fall Of Our New Electro-Pop Overlords
‘I Dream Of Wires’ is a track from Telekon, Gary Numan’s fourth LP, released in 1980 to a record-buying public in the final stages of being interested in anything even remotely Gary Numan related. In a short few years he’d be earning his keep duetting with MOR oopsie Leo Sayer on the type of early-evening, TV variety show beloved of old people (I actually checked on this, just to make sure I didn’t imagine it all. And there it is, from 1984, on YouTube: Sayer and a blue-haired Numan goofing around the television studio in hats and coats, singing that dystopian new-wave classic ‘On Broadway’. To an audience of old people).
I Dream Of Wires is also the name of a band that, for a few brief weeks, became one of the most hyped acts ever held aloft by the frozen, rictus grip of a music press in the dying stages of relevance.
Just as Britpop was smearing its greasy arse cheeks all over public consciousness, the Melody Maker decided to go big on a New Romantic revival that wasn’t really happening (if I recall correctly, some ridiculous non-scene called Romo). Cue acts such as Orlando, Plastic Fantastic and other non-entities whose names even a sad anorak like me can’t dredge up, all receiving their fifteen minutes in a circle-jerk of unimpressive androgyny, witless fashion and dumb-ass chordology – until the MM twigged that it was making a huge faux pas, and hid their ironic text generation behind the Britpop cupboard instead.
But the music press being what it is, the NME bandwagon was never far from wheezing over the horizon like a drunk charabanc – hence I Dream Of Wires; a series of obtuse, fawning, viscid news pieces, written whilst wearing sticky knickers and heralding the rapid ascent of our new electro-pop overlords. Until, that is, the mid-tour coach crash in the Austro-Hungarian Empire saw all of I Dream Of Wires made dead.
Because I Dream Of Wires didn’t exist. It was all a joke; a smug giggle invented for the amusement of all music hacks feeding at the teat of moribund, mainstream rock reportage. A laugh not only at the reader’s expense, but also a backhanded sneer towards synth-pop concepts. I think I ceased buying both NME and MM around this time.
I’m wielding these I Dream Of Wires references not just to show off my memory skills, or implied composure when researching self-indulgent blog posts, but because both stories demonstrate the problems of perception attached to (broad canvas) electronica. Stigma is too strong a word – as a homogeneous audience we’re slightly beyond viewing boys with synths as limp-wristed effeminates or deliberately weird and outsider; beyond viewing girls with synths as novelty eye candy; beyond viewing electronic pop music as automatically naff. But there’s still a detectable undertone of distrust, as if the consensus is that the synthesizer isn’t as worthy as a Fender Stratocaster, or a fucking French horn.
Hence what I’m really saying: LGM is heading on another electronica trip. I’m simply using an overdose of words and clunky anecdotes to do so. Cerebral electronic music only, until this blog becomes distracted by the latest indie-pop irrelevance.
I’ll give it a week, tops.
Drokk / Scope The Block