Kristian Eidnes Andersen
Vivarium (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The film Vivarium is at least half/three-quarters of a good movie (click that link to read my review). But one of the absolute highlights, and I mentioned this when talking about the film (as I often do) was the score. Sometimes I’ll be so excited about the idea of the music for a film – or I’ll know enough about the composer ahead of time – that I’ll dive in ahead of even watching the images the music was made to support. But I’ll always check it out in context. Other times I’m so taken with the music while watching that I go to the score as a separate listening experience after. That’s the case here. Kristian Eidnes Andersen is a sound engineer and composer and I really only know his work by reputation. There’s a long-standing relationship with Lars Von Trier – but the work there is largely in sound-design rather than in composition.
Here, as befits this film, there’s the perfect integration of score and sound design – it’s apparent within some of the cues in particular (Garden and the Sun) where you feel that creep of existential dread and you’re lead down the path with soft piano furnishings to arrive at an industrial cul de sac of sorts.
The gongs and tuned percussion (Nest) reminds me of some of Cliff Martinez’ finest work and regular readers will know he’s one of my go-to touchstones for modern film composition. I think too of Clint Mansell’s broad sweep (Tom Died) as Andersen builds tension but creates beautiful melodic nods and hints (Gemma Care). For the most part though this has a creeping sense of unease about it. Similar in tone and feel and drama-ratcheting to Hildur Guðnadóttir – most specifically her Chernobyl soundtrack.
Vivarium succeeds on a few levels – particularly as a first-time feature-length effort from its writer/director. But it was ultimately an episode of Black Mirror that ran out of steam. One of its huge power sources is this score. And if you’re at all interested in sound design and/or enjoy the waft and drift of film scores to then soundtrack your movements – or moods – you might just want to check out Andersen’s music here regardless of how you felt about the movie.
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