The Analog Rytm is still Elektron’s new kid on the block. With eight analog voices, each with an oscillator section, multimode filter, and overdrive circuit, it’s a club music powerhouse that’s quickly become adopted by big named artists such as Aphex Twin, Plaid and John Tejada. One of the useful features of the Rytm is that, unlike the Machinedrum and Monomachine, the user is able to set different sequence lengths per track, opening the door to something called polymeter.
A very basic example of polymeter is when working in a 4/4 time signature, a 16-step loop is juxtaposed with a loop that has a number of steps that is not divisible by four, such as 6. As the two loops play it will take 8 repetitions of the 6-step loop to end up at the same place it started in relation to the 16-step loop. While the idea may seem musically dissonant, the use of polymeter in techno has been around since the birth of the genre due to it’s hypnotic sound.
To change the pattern length of individual tracks on the Analog Rytm, tap the scale button while holding the function key to enter the scale menu. By default you will be in normal mode and your cursor will be under one of two numbers. The leftmost number selects the number of steps in the pattern. The maximum number of steps available to the pattern is determined by the total length, set by parameter to the right. Hit the left arrow to select the MODE section and hit the down arrow to change to advanced mode.
When in this mode you are able to change the sequence length of the selected track. On the right half of the screen, under the label “LEN”, you can control the number of steps before all tracks get reset to step 1. For working with polymeter I recommend setting that value to just before 1, which will read “INF” for infinite. What this means is that the tracks will never be forced to collectively restart so your odd timed loops will continue to play freely. There is one more important step though, because the “LEN” parameter also determines how long your pattern will play before it can switch to another pattern. In this case, because the master length was set to infinite, it means you will never be able leave the pattern. To remedy this, you’ll need to use the “CHNG” parameter to the right which allows you to control how long the active pattern will play before the next cued or chained pattern begins to play. In most cases you’ll want to set that to either 16, 32, 48, or 64.
You can download a special QuNeo preset for the Elektron Rytm controller here.
To hear an example of polymeter in techno, listen to this hard hitting track by Spanish producer Oscar Mulero.