I used to love Erasure but its too bad they never got the promotion and airplay like Depeche did to make it as big as they should. They made brilliant melodic electronic music with decent lyrics which I thought would catch on with rave kids looking for something more meaningful.
I notice though with people from UK/Europe that they seem to care more about gear than North Americans. Most serious gears heads over here don't even have close to that type of set-up.
I think there are only about 20 people in this whole city that actually know how to get's those racks farting.
The key to awsome synth programming is study. Learn thy module and what it does; that's my theory.
Most novice electronic musicians never took the time to respect and study our great modular systems of yesteryear, so they end up with the most lamest and weakest patches. Modulation is everything. Graduate from that school, and your tracks will be like *no* other.
Even if you don't own a modular, find someone who does. It's worth the time and effort to learn and discover what made ARP, EML, ARP and CCS so popular.
Reactor is a great place to start, but nothing feels better then pretending your a bell operator from the 70's on acid. The real deal!