Even though some moments are better than others on 4 Women No Cry, a 20-song compilation of electronic and organic blends from the Berlin-based Monika label, no single artist seems to upstage the next. The collection was spawned initially by (Monika label head) Gudrun Gut's interest in No New York, the 1978 Antilles compilation LP of late-'70s New York bands. No New York introduced New York experimental acts to audiences who otherwise wouldn't have discovered them, just as 4 Women showcases female artists who are currently floating under the eyes and ears of the common folk.
Each track is grounded in electronica, but is colored liberally by significant pieces of organic instrumentation in the foreground. Argentina-born Rosario Blefari offers unearthly ambience over echo-heavy beats and bursts of acoustic guitar for opener "Partir Y Renunciar," all the while accenting the backdrop with a delicate, mournful melody. She walks a beatless atonal steel drum loop and guitar line a few tracks later for "Melodia," and reaches glorious double-vocal peaks in its brief, breathy choruses.
Goslab member Tusia Beridze's "Wound" is textured and mellow electronic pop, accented by random handclaps over a somewhat familiar bass line. Beridze's gorgeous vocals are restrained and subtle, even though they are recorded front and center, and may easily be recognized by fans of her collaboration work with Nikakoi on the laptop mini-orchestras of 2003's Shentimental. Her instrumental "Hextention" also bears close listening, as its rich, incisive beats and melody end all too quickly before giving way to more elegant briefness in "Late."
Beridze's warm vocal production is echoed in the subsequent tracks by Paris native Eglantine Gouzy, who follows no particular structure in the oft-interrupted, stuttering techno beats of "12h12." Various synth tones seep in and out of "12h12" while Gouzy skates between singing and abbreviated boisterous statements, retaining playful atmospherics throughout.
Last in the lineup, Vienna's Catarina Pratter falls fairly short of her company by sadly succumbing to some moments of inconsistency. "Johnny Isolaschn," is draped in swirling vacuumed vocal snippets that disappear and reappear over short, abrasive beats. Thankfully, it's a brief excursion, but she then retreats to run-of-the-mill "I love you" sentiments in "Dreamin of Love," before it's nearly salvaged by the piece's sloppy weirdness via high-pitched backup vocals. It's not bad, and still complements well the rest of the collection, but it's an unwelcome spot of dryness, even in all of June's miserable humidity.
In all, 4 Women No Cry opens the curtains on voices that shouldn't go unheard, and if the show wears a bit thin toward the end, sitting through all the acts is worth it anyway.