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

3 comments

  1. Rich

    Fantastic piece.

    At last! I was never sure if the whole I Dream of Wires thing with the NME was a wind-up. (I was only 14 at the time) God knows how many people must have been taken in by it, in the pre-internet age it was piss-easy for the press to big groups up who no-one outside of London could never be sure were genuine.

    Just found this mea culpa on a NME review of Ladytron’s 604 LP back in 2001:

    “Don’t like to brag, but NME invented Ladytron in 1995 for a laugh. Not Ladytron the stupendous deadpan krautpop revivalists from Bulgaria via Liverpool, but Ladytron: The Concept. Back then they were called I Dream Of Wires and we made them up, wrote an in-depth feature on their ‘phenomenon’ then killed them off in a sickening April Fools’ Day bus crash.”

    Written by Mark Beaumont, he was definitely at the NME back then, was he behind the whole thing?

    Great blog this mate. What we the NME thinking with Copper Blue ferchrisaakes?! Had it’s moments, mind.

    Automatic for the People was Album of the Year! In their coke-addled confusion, NME journos gave the gong to an LP with a track called Man on the Moon on it. Just it was the wrong one.

    • lazerguidedmelody

      Yeah, I Dream Of Wires – from that hotbed of cutting edge satire, the New Musical Fucking Express. I actually revisited the Ladytron review you mention when writing this piece – in part because 604 is a damn fine record, and it’s ridiculously disingenuous (and predictably unsurprising) that the lead-in to the write up was yet more NME self-congratulation (if I remember correctly, the I Dream Of Wires pieces didn’t carry a byline, but yeah – Beaumont had something to do with it).

      Still, thanks for dropping by, + the nice words.

      And whilst we’re talking all things Copper Blue, I actually wrote something about this not too long back. http://wp.me/p18aRM-16b – because I’m a brutal self-publicist – enjoy.

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