As an Iranian diaspora meets overlooked German scenes – as Cologne artists play alongside Iranian artists making unique appearances in Europe – Timcheh is another meeting point of new sound beyond borders. It’s in Cologne this week, but here’s some don’t-miss music if you can’t make it in person.

If you’re anywhere in rail distance in Europe, I hope you come round – otherwise, pour yourself a nice cup of coffee and get ready for some listening.

Pictured at top – Farzané. (I needed something; I’m stuck on a train platform!)

I am fortunate to get to co-curate Friday night (alongside the incomparable Jessica Ekomane and artsaves on Saturday), as well as offer a workshop on adapting machine learning to embodiment and gesture. But

honestly, I’d be glad to make the trip just to hear this mix of artists. It’s essential both for finding the adventurous threads between Cologne, Iran, and beyond. Where we’re from and where we are can gently blur – these are just the sounds we want around us.

The full program: it’s a workshop and VR program on Thursday, full live lineups on Friday and Saturday, and a club night on to sunrise Sunday. That club night vibe was truly special in 2021, even coming from Berlin.

Let’s talk about some of that lineup.

First, if you haven’t already, drop everything you’re doing and go listen to Cinna Peyghamy – the French-born Iranian artist who has built a hybrid performance of modular synth and tombak (the Persian goblet drum). “The Skin In Between” is an easy choice for one of our albums of the year, and each time I see Cinna play live that set grows and evolves. “Oh, I think I’ll quit music now” was the reaction I heard from more than one friend and colleague on hearing the first live show. (We didn’t, don’t worry, but what a gift to feel that way, really!)

Have a listen:

Of course, Cinna is on Sote‘s Zabte Sote label, and Ata’s music is always extraordinary.

Swan Meat (Reba Fay) is a perfect example of the enduring richness of Cologne’s music scene – a prolific producer of explosive productions with a creative voice unlike anyone else. Blood Supernova is pure fire. It’s little wonder Reba has also been sought after for game soundtracks, like scoring the Divine Disco in Bloodhunt, the breakout battle royale hit. This is absolutely what vampires listen to on a big night out. (Or, I think vampires, sorry, I’ve been caught up on my Switch and don’t have a PS5. It’s okay, I can blast Swan Meat tracks while playing the new Mario Kart tracks.)

I’m really excited about Negisa and her absolutely exceptional debut EP. It effortlessly turns from glitched-out horror terrain to experimental pop and bone-chillingly poignant vocal writing. There’s so much superficial music these days; it’s just so good to hear this kind of direct emotional connection and sonic imagination.

Performance artist – composer – singer Isabelle Finou is another fierce Cologne talent with far-reaching sound designs and musical constructions. Each track is like a soundtrack to a dream in the three-quarter-remembered moment of waking up. I love this line from her bio: “She understands the human body as a resonance cavity for sounds and noises, in which the sending out of one’s own voice in relation to the environment becomes a political act.”

The above are just the portion I co-curated, but while Jessica Ekomane and Arash took on Saturday, this is also a wish list of a bunch of my favorite people.

Nazanin Noori is another talent to watch, now based in Berlin. She’s part of improvisational trio Parvaresh/Noori/Zahedi, as a modular synthesist and vocalist, but I’m just as excited for her solo appearance. She’s a multidisciplinary artist and even theater director, and creates sonic scenography that has its own dramaturgy. I actually don’t know what the work will be like on Saturday, but I can’t wait.

Peruvian artist, researcher, Radical Sounds Latin America co-founder, live coder, and all-around incredible musician Ale Hop is inbound, too. Those who know, know – and the ability to hear Peruvian and Persian rhythms collide in one night somehow fits perfectly.

Farzané (Farzaneh Nouri) is another incomparable Iranian artist, now based in the Netherlands. She’s a dedicated researcher and explorer as well as musician and artist, delving into new interactions between human and machine and AI. Also just too much to say. Go check her full website for some great works to discover.

Okay, Farida Amadou is the one artist I don’t really know so well yet, so now is the time! I know she’s got an incredible reputation as an improviser and a CV with collaborations with Steve Noble, Thurston Moore, Peter Brötzmann, Terrie Ex, Lukas Koening, Pat Thomas, Julien Desprez, Jerusalem in My Heart, and Moor Mother.

And yes, Temp-Illusion are now in Europe for a year. The Tehran-native duo of Shahin Entezami and Behrang Najafi already have one of my top picks for 2023 albums out, and having seen the adaptation to the live set in Berlin, it is just as thrilling in a performative state, if not more so.

The club night is really special too and intertwined with the theme rather than being the usual party afterthought. It pairs on curation Kambiz Kia, a big name in Tehran’s underground scene, with Monibi for true Cologne-meets-Tehran vibes. Can’t wIt.