Richard Villegas on Bomba Estéreo’s “Sonic Forest,” a call for environmental awareness

Richard Villegas (Remezcla) writes about the new single and call for environmental action by Bomba Estéreo “Sonic Forest (Déjenme respirar / Let Me Breathe)” featuring Nidia Góngora.

Bomba Estéreo are back in the spotlight with brand new single “Sonic Forest (Let Me Breathe),” a rousing call for environmental action spotlighting Colombia’s dizzying biodiversity and ancestral sonic traditions. The breathtaking track appears at the end of a new documentary of the same name, also out today (Nov. 18), starring and narrated by Bomba Estéreo’s Simón Mejía, who took a film crew into the rain forests of the Colombian Pacific to engage with small indigenous and Afro-diasporic communities. The film follows Mejía as he speaks with land protectors about the devastating effects of global warming, ethical farming and fishing practices, and the staggering murder rates faced by these communities and their most visible activists.

Obviously, any project helmed by Simón Mejía will also feature music prominently, and “Sonic Forest” is no different. The film is scored under Mejía’s solo production project Monte, drawing inspiration from the polyphony of organic sounds heard while shooting; whether sampling village chants, running river water or animal songs. There are also multiple sequences highlighting exuberant rehearsal and celebratory performances, both in an Afro-Colombian fishing town in Bahía Malaga and up in the mountains of Mutatá with the Emberá people. The title track brings it all back into Bomba Estéreo territory, with Li Saumet delivering poignant verses about the majesty of Colombia’s jungles, and featuring soaring guest vocals from Nidia Gongora, the beloved singer, educator and cultural preservationist behind Canalón de Timbiquí.

The “Sonic Forest” documentary is being released in partnership with Stand For Trees, an organization working directly with these communities to support sustainable economic development and providing training and technical assistance in agriculture, fisheries and ecotourism. The film has also received a high profile co-sign from Academy Award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix, a famously passionate environmentalist with an influential public platform.

Watch the full film here:

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