The Transhimalayan Network

With The Transhimilayan Network, Nischal Khadka opens our ears to emerging artists from Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet: all high Himalayan regions with a deeply rooted buddhist tradition. Connecting through isolation, these mountain states developed their own cultural traditions. The Transhimalayan Network attempts to present a variety of idiosyncratic forms of music and sonic art from around the Himalayan regions with lectures and workshops by experts in various fields tethered to sound, performance, and visual arts.
The ethos of this collaborative network is fundamentally decolonial – aiming to direct its resources, visibility and focus towards contributing to support and sustain a healthy context for art and specifically music in the trans Himalayan region, making sure that the decisional power remains in the hands of the local artists, audiences and contributors.

Episode 1 
On the last day of the exhibition GARDEN OF TEN SEASONS at SAVVY Contemporary, we turn our ears to a mix by Nischal Khadka, traversing sound art and music from the Himalayan region and beyond: moving from traditional and contemporary cultivations of sound and music to the intermingling of voices, chants, and field recordings across decidedly liminal spaces. 


Episode 2
For episode 2, Nischal Khadka invites Ruhail Qaisar, a self-taught multidisciplinary artist and producer from Ladakh, India. Ruhail’s work focuses on sound art and experimental filmmaking. As a musician, he explores the confines of memory, intergenerational trauma, and the operational swarm of the unconscious through poetic gestures and improvisation. His debut EP LTALAM draws on the solipsism and decay of historical structures, family homes, and the inevitable pollution and ghettoization of the alleys within the old-town Leh: a place where once identities were as organic as the structures, but where the tourism-based economy has now pounded concrete dilapidations, moving the locality transformed into a dismal state. On a larger scale, all indigenous communities in the Himalayas are suffering at the hand of unplanned industrialization and urbanization as well as military atrocities.

Ruhail’s compositions form haunting drones of hypnosis disturbed by spastic barrages of post-industrial noise and unnerving power electronics with tropes of vernacular theatre. He is currently a resident at Hong Kong Community Radio with his show “The Hounds of Pamir”. His debut LP will be released on Aisha Devis’s Danse Noire later in 2022.


Gesar Saga – Lower Ladakh
Ling Danza – Chorten
Gesar Saga – Purig and Shina
Jhal Jhali Aankha Ma – Usha Mangeshkar
Pahilo Bhet – Chepang
Refusal Part One – Tashi Dorji
Voice from Tara – Kelsang Chukie Tethong
Dang Dung (Disorder Lust) – Ugra Karma
Tabu Zing Zing – Songs of Changpa Tribe
Silk Road – Kitaro
Ali Yato Le – Ladakhi Folk Song 


Episode 3
Kathmandu to Beijing via the Silk Road
With Nischal Khadka alongside Howie Lee and Nindramaya

For this session, Nischal invites Beijing born musician, producer, and visual artist Howie Lee and Nepali singer/producer Nindramaya to have a conversation on their creative process of making electronic music and sound art. Discussing the frameworks and tonalities they use in their processes of sound production, they share reflections on the influences of various cultures and traditions within the Asian continent on their practices. 

This episode considers relationships across intersections of geography and sonic knowledges. Nepal has a long history with China through traders, artists, architects, and sculptures who journeyed through the Tibetan region to mainland China along the Transhimalayan silk road. Both Buddhism and Newar craftsmanship reached Tibet, and over centuries, became a part of shared life in central Asia, Mongolia, and Japan where musicians also played along the Silk Road, with music as a medium for people from distinct cultures to share their ideas and stories.

Howie Lee is well known for blending contemporary and traditional music across Asia to a wide array of modern club genres. Clattering percussion. Skittering rhythms. Found sounds and field recordings. The sound of traditional China, kicking and screaming into the electric age. Howie Lee is also a co-founder of the label Do Hits, issuing new sounds from China’s underground beat-scene in steady pacing since its inception. With his uniquely “Made in China” aesthetic, Howie is an electronic music visionary – creating a hybrid club sound rooted in the Middle Kingdom, but built for our densely interconnected globe. In his work, he deconstructs borders and boundaries within narrations of eurocentric electronic music. He played the first-ever Boiler Room recording in China, and has clocked appearances at SxSW, the UK’s Shambala Festival, and India’s Magnetic Fields.

Nindramaya is the pseudonym for Rojnita Shyangden. Her name is a combination of the word “Nindra'' which is “the state of sleep” and “maya” meaning love. With the combination of these words, Nindramya creates dreamy soundscapes dripped in nostalgia entwining pop and electronica. Starting out with making covers online and producing simple tracks on garageband on iphone, her work is inspired by her sleep. Based in New York, she has contributed a few of her ambient and instrumental work for compilation albums and short films in and outside of America. Having released a few singles in Nepali independently, her own EP is in the works to be released in 2023.

Together, Nindramaya, Howie Lee, and Nischal Khadka traverse the past, present, and future of contemporary music scenes in Beijing, Kathmandu, and beyond.


Episode 4
Common Tonalities: Crossing cultures, sounds, and geographies

With Khyam Allami, Merv Espina, Cheryl Ong, Lynn Nandar Htoo, Ruhail Qaisar, hosted by Nischal Khadka and Rojnita Shyangden

In this fourth and final episode of Transhimalayan Network, Nischal Khadka invites the team of Common Tonalities. They focus on researching Southeast Asian tuning systems and scales using modern music technologies to create new music while plunging into a broad spectrum of experimental sound and music cultures in Southeast Asia. This episode touches upon ways of rethinking and imagining the musical landscape of the Himalayas and delves into their experience of weaving traditional musical forms with diverse music production software and tools, also considering the influence of the Buddhist culture through Central and East Asia  and its expansive practices across forms and formats.​​

In this session’s conversation, Khaym Allami speaks on the music production software that he has recently developed (Leimma, Apotome) that will allow creative access to systems outside twelve-tone equal temperament. He also shares his experience on the workshops he has led for the Common Tonalities compilation album. Lynn Nandar Htoo shares her experience attending the Common Tonalities workshops and the current experimental music scene in Yangon, Myanmar. Finally, Ruhail Qaisar, from Leh Ladkah, will join the conversation on his experiences with the contemporary music scene from Ladkah and India.

Khyam Allami is an Iraqi-British multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, and founder of Nawa Recordings. His work explores experimental composition and improvisation inspired by Arabic music and culture. Cheryl Ong is a Singaporean percussionist known for her performances with avant-rock group The Observatory and the trio SA. Merv Espina is an artist and researcher involved in the WSK Festival and co-organizer of Nusasonic. Lynn Nandar Htoo is a musician and sound designer experimenting with electronic and ambient sounds in Myanmar. Ruhail Qaisar is a self-taught artist from Ladakh whose music incorporates local mythos and memories of growing up in the Himalayas.