Providing fittingly serpentine accompaniment for this descent into darkness are composers Andrew Grush and Taylor Stewart, known collectively as The Newton Brothers. Also responsible for the score to this year's surprise hit Oculus, The Newton Brothers seem to be on a bit of genre film roll now, crafting one solid horror score after another. Proxy, though, is an entirely different beast than Oculus. The film has been touted as having an unmistakeably Hitchcockian vibe, and the moody score by the duo certainly supports this notion. There's a very classic, Herrmannesque quality to their score, a predominantly string-based endeavor with occasional piano, woodwind, and choral flourishes. To be sure, this is a score that prioritizes weaving a thick atmosphere over delivering any particularly jolting shocks, its primary influences seeming to come from the more reserved, introspective portions of Herrmann's Psycho and Vertigo.
"Prelude for Proxy", the album's opening cue, is a perfect encapsulation of the classic flavor that The Newton Brothers have carefully injected into the score. The repeating, sustained high strings and light woodwind flourishes work to punctuate the eerie and meandering main theme, collectively evoking Herrmann's deeply psychological score for Vertigo. Both the mixing and orchestration work towards this end as well. The layered strings linger and snake around their chords, at other points shimmering and trembling in the major key or harshly growling in the minor key. This is typical of much of the album, with moody soundscapes executed predominantly by the string ensemble. A lot of this material simmers rather than forcefully grips you, but it's always appropriately dreary and classy stuff. There also exist some touches reminiscent of Pino Donaggio's work, as in the wonderfully melancholic choral tones of "Ester's Lullaby", "Hymn for Peyton", "Playground", and "End Titles". The lullaby of sorts featured in "Ester's Lullaby" and "End Titles" is the highlight of the score, though a truly beautiful layering of the ensemble in the uniquely tender "Falling in Love" at times rivals it. As for suspense, a number of motifs work to drum up anxiety and add some momentum. There's a quietly persistent rhythm of piano strikes and pizzicato string plucks heard in "Melanie's House", "Murder", "The Department Store", and "Asphyxiophilia" that's quite effective, as well as a sharper string idea heard in "Patrick Snaps" that's highly evocative of Herrmann's menacing conclusion to Psycho infamous murder sequence.
Perhaps The Newton Brothers have heeded the lesson of Richard Band's Re-Animator, because Proxy smartly makes reference to and draws inspiration from Herrmann's style without ever really aping it. There's even some modern touches in here, as in the driving "Anika's Anarchy", that help to keep the proceedings contemporary and fresh. A nice recording bolsters this score, rendering The Newton Brothers' Proxy a deeply intimate, psychological experience that draws from prior genre classics for an effective infusion of old-school and new-school horror. It may not be something that you'll return to with the frequency of the classics it pays homage to, but it's definitely worth your time.
A Few Recommended Tracks: "Prelude for Proxy", "Ester's Lullaby", "Falling in Love", "End Titles"
Label: Screamworks Records
Availability: 17 track edition