Review: Very few modern producers are adept at crafting hardware-driven techno, but Ali Berger is one of the exceptions. As Sump Pump so effortlessly demonstrates, the Midwest artist takes up the mantle of artists like DBX, Chris Sattinger and Woody McBride. The title track is a frenetic, stripped back affair, full of analogue blips and featuring a pitched down vocal sample. "Voices" is similar, if slightly slower tempo, as a robotic vocal unfolds over a raw Chicago jacking rhythm, while Berger turns up the intensity levels with the machine funk of "Microbial Corrosion". Despite this less than polished approach to production, Berger is also capable of subtlety, as the chord heavy "Dreaming of a World" and the abstract "Pattern Buffers Depolarizing" both demonstrate.
Review: The rise of San Francisco's Avalon Emerson continues with her new EP for Ghostly International diffusion label Spectral Sound. Following up some great release for the likes of Icee Hot and Shtum, Emerson is in fine form with these four attitude driven tech house cuts. Starting out in style with the funky and uplifting jack of "Natural Impasse", there's then the emotive analogue soul of "Dystopian Daddy" that's full of vintage vintage pads, gritty synth leads and rusty rhythm patterns. Finally the high octane thump and shuffle of "Groundwater" hammers the message home in gloriously.
Review: Cindy Li aka Ciel debuts on Ghostly offshoot Spectral with this diverse, raw release. Calling to mind the exuberance and energy of 90s techno, Why Me? starts with the title track, where Ciel uses rickety break beats and punchy kicks to underpin swirling psychedelic sound scapes. "Go Fish", featuring Wiretapping, is cut from a similar cloth as the Toronto-based producer combines squelchy tones with a wiry rhythm that chimes seductively. She picks up the pace for "Hipwrecked", with a stripped back, minimal rhythm that recalls the height of Pure Plastic and Minimal Man. The charmingly dreamy "Uri's Song", which also features Wiretapping closes out this fine release.