Kalyani & Isha's Ambient Pop Draws on Thousands of Years of Tradition

The Naarm duo, which features Willow Beats' Kalyani, make blissful new age music that's as modern as it is traditional.

by Shaad D’Souza
29 May 2018, 8:43am

Savannah Van Der Niet

In his 2011 documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog descends into France’s Chauvet cave, the site of hundreds of cave paintings that date back tens of thousands of years. Herzog says the paintings mark the start of “the modern human soul”, and suggests that they may be devotional in some way. To whom, or to what, Herzog doesn’t know, but there’s an air of deep, spiritual power to them anyway.

Kalyani, one half of Naarm-based duo Kalyani & Isha, says that she wrote debut single “That’s All I Came For” after watching Cave of Forgotten Dreams, inspired by the idea of legacy, and the pressures it can create. But you can hear the film’s influence on other parts of the song, too; there’s a devotional current that runs through “That’s All I Came For” similar to the one that Herzog finds in the Chauvet cave – a kind of deep, warm spirituality that’s hard to pin down but undeniably present.

It’s understandable that Kalyani & Isha would be drawn to ideas like these on their debut single. Both Kalyani and Isha descend from rich cultures that originated tens of thousands of years ago – vocalist Kalyani is a Pyemairrenner woman from Trouwunna and Indian multi-instrumentalist Isha was raised in the Hindu spiritual tradition of bhakti yoga – and, when first beginning to write and produce music together, lived in a shed in Wollumbin, ‘New South Wales’. Recording in an overgrown caravan outside their home, the pair were surrounded by earth and nature.

Even though “That’s All I Came For” is ostensibly electronic music, there’s something deeply organic about it; synths shiver like leaves and rush like water, and the song itself – racing at points and slowing almost to a halt at others – feels like it charts the transition of seasons. Listen to Kalyani & Isha’s beautiful debut single below:

Kalyani & Isha are also performing at our first Noisey Party of the year, this Friday. They'll be part of a stacked lineup, supporting experimental anti-racist doom duo Divide and Dissolve with Pillow Pro and Netti. It's completely free, Friday 1st June at Howler Melbourne. All details here.

Noisey Presents Divide and Dissolve
Artwork by Ashley Goodall

This article originally appeared on Noisey AU.

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