Singing the dreams, fears, and voices of the Bornean forest

Penan communities

At approximately 130 million years old, the rainforests of Sarawak, Malaysia are the oldest tropical hardwood forests in the world. However, in the last 40 years, over 90 percent of the primary forests have been deforested and converted to a palm oil monoculture. The local Penan communities have met this period of mass destruction and a changing climate with resistance in order to protect their homelands. Lagu Penan (Penan Song) is a collaboration between indigenous Penan musicians, activists, and international artists that will culminate in a sensorial collage of songs and soundscapes exploring life and non-life. The project celebrates the dreams, fears, and voices of the Bornean forest. Human and more-than-human, blockade and bulldozer, and bird calls and beats entangle in this research of radical listening, ethnomusicology, and polyphonic soundscapes. The team records the soundscapes of how the ecological balance shifts, focusing on interspecies perspectives in dialogue with Penan musicians. Lagu Penan is an opportunity to listen to the voices of humans and more-than-humans amidst the ecological grief of Sarawak.