Recently found Kevin Saunderson's Faces and Phases on beatport and d/l'ed it. He is one of the "Belleville Three" (Detroit Techno) guys along with Juan Atkins and Derrick May.
Gritty, direct, occasionally straight-up acid house-sounding, but where it's diverging into techno is the use of noise and potentially grating samples. Percussive sounds such as hats and claps rarely vary. It's just pow-pow-pow-pow while low-res samples growl and wail (well, not really, it's more musical than that). Nowadays software makes it so easy to add randomization and subtle filtering to the percussion so these hits sound deliberately minimal, when it was really probably the best the machines could do. (Am guessing it's mostly the 909 drum computer since the hats sound like samples of hats rather than synthesized hats.)
Was searching around online for the Virgin (sublabel) disc from 1988, Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit that introduced the Belleville Three and others to Europe. Surprisingly it seems not to have been reissued. Would love to hear that time capsule and imagine how it sounded to ears unfamiliar with these musical strategies. I actually know people who think electronic pop music innovation started and stopped with Kraftwerk but that's just wrong.
[Related: Pitchfork interview with some of the innovators.]
[Unrelated: Philip Sherburne on the malaise in the current dance scene. I am not feeling this because I am not producing tracks for the dance floor. It's still fun for me because I have no rules to obey.]