Exploring the Unknown with FAXES

Category: music 153

Using dark, emotive tones to channel the unsettling atmosphere of a 1980s horror flick, FAXES highlights the parallels that exist between fictional fear and the reality of life in the real world. 

Matt Carter

Earlier this year, Fredericton musician Dave Duval began writing and releasing music under the name FAXES. Using dark, emotive tones to channel the unsettling atmosphere of a 1980s horror flick, FAXES highlights the parallels that exist between fictional fear and the reality of life in the real world. 

“FAXES began as an offshoot of my main project, Zeit, which is a two-person operation,” said Duval. “The past year has been extremely productive for me, and Zeit now has a backlog of material that my partner Scott [Nemeth] has been working on. We have a new full length coming this summer that’s going to be a doozy.”

Initially conceived as Black Faxes, Duval decided to shorten the name based solely on the title of his debut EP, Black Candles.

“A black fax is something you could send to a company, institution or person that would print an entirely black page, thus wasting their ink or toner and thus, their resources,” said Duval. “That was an interesting idea to me. And the other meaning was related to Faxe, a strong and cheap beer which I’ve had a few of, in my day.

“I changed the name for two reasons. First off, there’s another band using it. I knew my debut release was going to be called Black Candles and I thought an album listed as Black FaxesBlack Candles just didn’t look right. I settled on FAXES because it’s not widely used, and I felt it was just a simple, striking band name.”

FAXES debut EP, ‘Black Candles’.

Since the release of Black Candles, Duval has teamed up with Bathurst-based composer Mink and his project, Women of the Pore, to release a split album. FAXES/Women of the Pore was released earlier this month. And there are other projects in the works.

While both of Zeit and FAXES could easily be labeled dark ambient, Duval’s solo work involves more subtle, slow burning compositions that evolve in less obvious fashion, a strong contrast to Zeit’s full-volume delivery.

“As I’m plugging away at material for this project, I find myself developing an aesthetic that’s informed by my work in Zeit, but which takes more influence from film scores and library music and is a bit less informed by heavier music,” said Duval.

“The tough thing with FAXES is that I think some people assume that I’m just really bad at making synthwave music, when that’s not my intention at all. The guiding lights for this project are artists like Tangerine Dream, Lustmord, Egisto Macchi, Majeure, and countless film composers like Guiliano Sorgini, Fabio Frizzi, Klaus Schulze, and Bruno Nicolai. The music is inspired by all of these disparate elements.”

As a genre that largely exists (locally at least) as a group of online composers working without the type of audience usually cultivated through live performance, a supporting scene for the music Duval makes does exist, somewhere.

Thanks to the many online platforms for sharing music, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to seek out and discover the many ambient music projects and bedroom composers creating deep, engaging, drone structured music in New Brunswick. There is new stuff being posted online every week and there are at least two record labels (Duval’s own NB Noise Brigade and Patient Records founded by Eric Hill) and one podcast based in New Brunswick that cater specifically to the type of music Duval is making.

FAXES split release with Women on the Pore.

But despite having an active community of online musicians and labels scattered across the province, each producing and releasing a steady stream of music, local ambient sound composers currently lack a consistent forum for public performance. Duval is optimistic that someday soon, FAXES will begin playing live, a move he hopes will help his project meet with new ears and audiences. 

“To be truthful, it’s been hard to find a community,” said Duval, “but I believe that a community will find this project eventually, especially as we start looking to put together a live set which will hopefully succeed at pulling together the filmic qualities of the music with an accompanying visual presentation.”

Not surprisingly, and despite the many challenges involved in creating music on the fringes, Duval’s drive to is not unlike that of someone playing rock, pop or country music for that matter. The motivations are universal, even if the sounds tend to be foreign to most. 

“I’m driven by neuroses, a compulsion to create and share, and a need to do something in life that I earnestly love to do, and would continue doing even if it received no attention,” he said.

Further Listening: 



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