Tehran-born, Vienna-based artist Rojin Sharafi plays electroacoustic music that’s kinetic, complex, and grippingly powerful. But just watch.

(Also, hello Sequential (Dave Smith Instruments) and Moog – here are hammered strings and burbling sounds in combinations you’re unlikely to get from any other artist endorsement.)

Photo, top via the artist.

Rojin Sharafi plays ‘Urns Waiting To Be Fed’ (excerpt)
Released via Zabte Sote
Live at Fluc + Fluc Wanne
Organised by Struma + Iodine
October 2019

This isn’t new, exactly, but – somehow to me it’s an ideal sound to spend some time with now, anyway. (I have no conception of time normally, less so over the last months, so who cares? Also – we all better line up those 2021 or 2022 or 2025 bookings, eh?)

Looking like she’s spelunking in some post-apocalyptic future cave, her full set for “Urns Waiting to Be Fed” represents a full-velocity array of colliding analog bubbles, waves of frequency, micro-fragments of string and percussion, plucked, bowed, and coaxed from acoustic and electronic gear. You get hyperactive rhythms and hybrid sound bent between the physical and virtual.

That full album is on Zabte Sote, the Iranian-focused experimental label helmed by Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar with a production boost from Opal Tapes giving it some higher visibility. That’s included excellent stuff like Temp-Illusion – do check out their whole catalog – but this one has to be one of my favorites.

In another shadowy Austrian recording, we get to see how she mixes live percussion with a similar rig in 2018.

Plenty more where that came from. It does raise an interesting question to me – even as more conservative dance music is off the table now, leading people to explore more experimental music, why couldn’t we dance to this when the time comes?

I’m also intrigued by various film work and interdisciplinary projects, including an unfinished architectural collaboration. I hope we get to see these partnerships’ output. There’s even a nice photo blog.


Sharafi’s work is also an an all-round excellent compilation of experimental electronics from Iranian composers. At 42 tracks, you get a feeling for just how broad that scene has become – and this selection is by no means complete or comprehensive.

I suppose one side effect of this process of identification – particularly as artists like Sote command larger audiences – is that people who work in isolation begin to hear what one another is doing. My anecdotal impression is that this mutual awareness has only grown over the past decade for Iranian producers. But anyone making weird and complicated music has experienced some form of isolation. (Or, conversely, got into the field of making strange sounds as a way to pass isolation.) Whatever the connecting thread, these sorts of compilations can make people more aware of context, even when a scene may not be obviously present in the way it is with, say, very popular club music.

I still await more ways that we share those kinds of sonic connections and adventurism. Those of us making music who prize alone-ness in creative work also I think need moments of connection.

But now while a lot of us are digging through sounds and pondering new directions in frightening times, it’s worth going back to some of these sounds, certainly.

And while the music press seems to love new “discoveries” and first albums, I know I’m keen to hear what Rojin Sharafi does next.

PS – more up to date, if you haven’t seen it. What has label boss Sote been up to? Well, he’s been doing things with wood! Awesome things with wood. Synthetic wood.