I read a post recently about advice someone got from an engineer or music teacher or friend stressing how important it is to find your main piece of kit, whether it be an instrument or a workflow or a device, and then mix and match other things along with that.
I’ve been ignoring all the evidence that Model:Cycles is that centerpiece for me, and how useful having one is. It does just enough of everything I really need. Drums, chromatics, FX, modern Elektron sequencing, even (limited) MIDI out. Just enough tracks to make usable backing tracks or even finished songs. It’s not perfect - if it had even Drumbrute’s pads, or polyphony, I wouldn’t need my PadKontrol or maybe even my Nord Lead 3 or DX7 (on loan from friend ) Overbridge might have been nice too.
Could Elektron’s next groovebox take a leaf from Cycles? I’d bet my money on it…
I don’t start all projects on it (though I have several that are all or mostly M:C), but it finds its way onto the majority of tracks, it’s just always there and I am getting to know all its secrets. This thing is way, way more versatile than it gets credit for. You can bypass much of its default character (if you want) by leveraging the LFO. For instance Tone, can make excellent kicks, snares, claps, and toms. And the Metal machine is ridiculous. It can make shakers, sword clangs, 808 hat, 909 hat, ride cymbal, high-passed chromatics… Once you understand how all the machines utilize the operators and hidden features of the sound engine, you come to see that it is essentially a general-purpose FM synth, lacking only direct control over the envelopes and algorithms. And once you understand how various typical electronic music sounds are constructed, you can coax it to very close to almost anything.
There are some things it will never be able to do and so you supplement. But for my bread-and-butter, it can step outside its plastic home and sound almost analog.
I love it.