Recently, I got the chance to listen to the original motion picture soundtrack for Vivarium. Described as an existential trip to suburban Hell, Vivarium follows a young couple looking for the perfect place to live. In search of their dream home, the couple find themselves trapped in a bizarre labyrinthine neighborhood of identical houses. In time, the surreal situation spirals further and further out of control. The soundtrack for this film was written by Danish composer Kristian Eidnes Andersen. He received a degree from the National Film School of Denmark, and has been sound designer on more than 80 films. As a score composer, Eidnes Andersen has credit for more than 20 titles including von Triers Antichrist, Thomas Vinterberg’s Submarino, and Per Fly’s The Woman That Dreamed About a Man.
The big thing that strikes me about Eidnes Andersen’s soundtrack for Vivarium is how the entire thing is filled with a sense of “the Other.” That is to say, you listen to this music, and it gives you chills because it doesn’t sound like anything that came from here, it is “other than” and that’s something that can instinctively set nerves on edge, which can be good if that’s the feeling a composer is going for. Given the plot of Vivarium sees a couple trapped in a simulacrum of suburbia, I think this was very much the idea the composer had in mind.
Another detail I can’t get out of my mind is how the soundtrack for Vivarium seems to just “exist.” Most of the time there’s some sense of forward motion in a soundtrack, be it plodding or breakneck speed. In Vivarium, however, the music doesn’t really move at all, it’s just floating in a bubble, perhaps further symbolizing the unnaturalness of the world that Gemma and Tom find themselves in. There are also a lot of echoes in the music that reminded me of someone making noise in an empty room. Listening to this music really gives you a sense of loneliness and emptiness, this is not happy music (but then again, this isn’t a happy story either).
The soundtrack for Vivarium is definitely out there, but that’s not a bad thing. This is an unusual story and it needed unusual music to go along with it, and as far as that goes I think Eidnes Andersen nailed it.
05. Tom Died
06. Garden and the Sun
07. Gemma Dies
08. Gemma Care
09. Follow the Boy
10. The End
Let me know what you think about the music of Vivarium in the comments below and have a great day!
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