Indo-Pak ambient project The Eternal Twilight: “We are both real cute and young”

MTV Desi, April 29, 2011

Ethereal, ambient post-rock inspired by Brian Eno, Sigur Rós and Hammock—but made in Mumbai and Rawalpindi by a couple of guys swapping digital files across the Indo-Pak border? Why not—especially if it sounds as good as The Eternal Twilight, whose debut albumEverything Resembles You just came our way.

We’d say forget what you heard about the South Asian ambient scene, but since there isn’t really a South Asian ambient scene to begin with, Noor Kadiwala and Abbas Haider are here to spark it. They’ve made a beautiful record, a dozen tracks of layered atmospherics with plenty of melodic structure and a rich mix of moods, from a melancholy keyboard track to ones that simmer with midtempo beats or foreground natural sounds like crickets and a walker’s tread.

Reaching out to kindred spirits online, TET connected with US guitarist Quinn Montoya, who mastered the record, and a German guitarist, Christian Erfurt. Now the album, which you can buy and download from TET’s Bandcamp site is set for physical release on German label Oxide Tones (June 19th) and soon on iTunes and Amazon. But TET aren’t just in it for themselves: Kadiwala also recently organized Hope for Japan, a 36-track compilation for Japan earthquake relief with ambient musicians from around the world. MTV Desi’sSiddhartha Mitter caught up by email with these ambient impresarios.

So who are you guys anyway?

Noor and Abbas: We are self-taught young musicians from Mumbai and Rawalpindi, respectively. We love to make beautiful and touching ambient soundscapes. We are happy people who love being sad puppies at times and have a lame sense of humor.

Isn’t this music kind of ruminative for a pair of young dudes?

Noor: Yeah, we both are real cute and young. I am 20-something. I just gave my final year computer science exams. But I don’t think our music is sad!

Abbas: Yeah, being 19 doesn’t mean one should just worry about getting laid or going to parties. Neither it is all about angst. Our music is reflective of memories and nostalgia and love of all Nature. The Eternal Twilight is the sonic representation of our softer sides.

How did you two connect and how do you work? What are the logistics of your cross-border Indo-Pakistani collaboration?

Noor: We met on Orkut. Abbas had a bedroom black metal project. He introduced me to digital music production. It’s been a natural progression since then. We got into lighter forms of music such as ambient, post-rock, or dream pop. TET is an Internet-based collaboration. We both experiment with sound, then we share the files and exchange opinions and try adding and altering until it takes shape into something very proper.

Is The Eternal Twilight just the tip of the iceberg for ambient music in India, or are you guys pretty much out on a limb?

Noor: In my experience there are not many ambient music/post-rock artists in India or Mumbai in particular, so there’s no scene. But I think there are more listeners day by day. It’s just a matter of time when some more dudes will start picking instruments and do similar music. It’s the same in Pakistan I guess. Abbas?

Abbas: I don’t think there will be a scene here for another five years at least, but there is a small bunch of very talented musicians who are doing a great job but are mostly unheard of. Asfandyar Khan plays a very decent form of ambient music and some exquisite piano pieces. Then there are drone-oriented projects like Aus-rine and 6la8 from Karachi.

Is your music for people at home with their headphones, or do you perform?

Noor: We haven’t performed anywhere. I experiment around with my Digital Audio Workstation at home and record. That is pretty much it.

Abbas: Someday we shall perform live and it shall be open for all. Maybe TET live at the K2 or Everest basecamp, alongside Sigur Ros and Hammock…

Speaking of mountains—music like this is rarely meant to sound like a specific location, it’s more about evocation and state of mind, but you do have one song called “Dim Lights and Cold Himalayan Nights.” Is there a story that goes with that?

Noor: We love nature and mountains. When I first visited the Himalayan states of Himachal and Uttarakhand I instantly fell in love. I almost felt as if I have some kind of spiritual connection with them. I would love to spend the rest of my life up there.