Dinky: Anemik
Wagon Repair

Though Alejandra Iglesias aka Dinky now calls Berlin home, her fourth album Anemik unmistakably reflects her Chilean roots. Recorded using analog equipment, acoustic instruments, and vocal elements, the collection oozes a sweat-soaked animation one associates with her Santiago de Chile origins. Iglesias's back-story includes an eclectic listening appetite of Depeche Mode, Eno, Plastikman, Aphex Twin, Carl Craig, Jeff Mills, Ricardo Villalobos, Dandy Jack, and Luciano, and a late-‘90s move from Santiago to Manhattan to join the Martha Graham School of Contemporary dance that in turn provided a gateway into the NY Club scene, subsequent introduction to American house and Detroit techno, and eventual DJing and recording.

Setting the scene, “Childish” grows into a feverish cocktail of percussive combustion and flickering electronic patterns. In “Westoid Feat Updates,” a Miles-ian muted trumpet augments a jaunty techno-funk groove and vocals by Dinky and guest Jorge Gonzales. The title track's a more restless and effervescent affair, with machine beats, robotic propulsion, synth smears, and vocal chants fighting for position over a stabilizing 4/4 kick drum pulse. Powered by a fluid house groove and willowy atmosphere, “Ceramik” exudes the feverish delirium of a Chilean club jam, while “Skyped” offers a percolating discharge of entranced voices and metallic percussion accents. In the longest track, “Epilepsia,” hyperactive arpeggiated squiggles sparkle and gleam while a Latinized microhouse groove burbles and sputters. In some cases she pushes the experimental envelope, as shown by the blend of aquatic vocal effects and Latin-tinged percussion patterns that compose “Glacial.” With its murmured vocals and mechano beats, the even-more-curious “Fadik” sounds like Mazzy Starr put through an Einstürzende Neubauten grinder. Prodded by a bass line borrowed from Led Zeppelin's “Dazed and Confused,” “Rain Fallic” scatters pebbles of breathy vocals and bleeding guitar lines in a mid-tempo exercise some listeners would liken to trip-hop.

Though there's structure in play, Iglesias's material organically unfolds, as if each track's elements dictate the direction the music takes rather than any Dinky might elect to impose. That's especially evident in “Romaniks,” which exudes the open-endedness of a Villalobos track in its free-floating mix of Latin percussion flourishes and trippy chants. Her music may be rooted in techno and house, but they function more as points of departure than constraining templates; in short, it's a heady recipe that sometimes feels perched precariously between structure and looseness. Not everything on Anemik convinces in equal measure but Dinky at the very least deserves credit for rejigging the conventional dance music template with the stamp of her bold personality.

December 2009