- Though Ali Berger lives in Detroit, his musical genealogy comes from a less obvious place: Boston. A fixture of that city's tight-knit dance music scene for years, you can hear the influence of two of Boston's best-known house producers—John Barera and Will Martin—in his output (primarily for his own label, Trackland Acid Dealerships Of Skillman, New Jersey). Martin, too, has moved on from Boston, settling in New York and starting a label called Firm Tracks. He launches it with an EP by Berger, a record that proves this group of artists remains musically connected even if they're geographically separated.
Phone Calls is split between two sides of Berger: the one that makes bright, groovy house and another that hammers out stiff, techno-influenced tracks. The former, naturally, is more approachable, like "Eve," which is classic-sounding in the way that a John Barera tune might be. It's got a steady, satisfying groove and builds nicely, with techno-style hi-hats shading in some tension for the second half. The title track is less distinctive but rock solid. These are utilitarian tunes with a bright disposition, like a minimalist piece of furniture with a vibrant topcoat.
When it comes to the harder stuff, Berger scuffs that shine. "Bang It" is bumpy, rollicking techno with a stuttering vocal snippet. At first, the "bang it" sample feels too obvious, but the way the track layers more and more stuttering blurs the syllables together. It's a nice effect that mirrors the modulation of the simple chord progression on "Phone Calls." The EP finishes with a tune that would fit on Trackland Acid Dealerships: "Track 4" is rowdy, with more gruff vocal samples and a knotty acid bassline that gurgles and slurps underneath. Like the rest of Phone Calls, it's reliable and unpretentious, with an ease that calls back to Berger's roots.
A2 Bang It
B1 Phone Calls
B2 Track 4