The modern movement among musicians to craft total aesthetic experiences is one we can get behind wholeheartedly, as it puts greater control in the hands of the artists and encourages a more complete realization of the original vision.
Which brings us to Former Faces, a new LA-based indie-rock project fronted by Ryan Parmenter, formerly of KG Bird and Cue the Moon. Parmenter started this new project in 2017 and immediately put his nose to the grindstone, quickly writing and recording his debut EP, the visual album Swimming in Circles. Parmenter also enlisted the help of local directors to create videos to accompany each of the EP’s four tracks to complete the visual aspect of the experience. He then found some like-minded musicians to round out the Former Faces live line-up and began playing around Silverlake, quickly garnering attention for their visually — and sonically — impressive stage performances at the Hi-Hat, Satellite, Resident, and more.
All that in the course of less than a year, and yet Former Faces shows no signs of resting on their laurels. Less than a month into 2018, Parmenter and crew have announced plans to release their debut full length album Foreign Nature, and have given us the exclusive honor of debuting the first new single “Forc# Fi#lds.” Musically, “Forc# Fi#lds” continues to explore the psychedelic indie rock sound of their debut, sounding something like Tame Impala doing Pink Floyd covers after binging on Steely Dan and Hall & Oates mix tapes. Visually speaking, the track is unlike any aesthetic experience you’re likely to see this year. The images in the video originally come from “Sun Flight: The Myth of Daedalus and His Son, Icarus,” a 1966 animated short by Gerald McDermott. The impressionistic aesthetic melds beautifully with the dreamy nature of the music, yet looks nothing like the popular animation styles of that era or any since. The song explores a theme of opening one’s self to the possibilities of the future and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to new ideas and endeavors. The interesting part here is the juxtaposition against the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, a cautionary tale warning against the hubris of unchecked pride and confidence. We watch Icarus fall from the heavens as the song reaches a glorious psychedelic crescendo, leaving the viewer with conflicting feelings of elation and apprehension. “Forc# Fi#lds” seems to be an indication of the highly nuanced and finely crafted approach to indie rock Former Faces has developed, and we cannot wait to see the final realization of this impressive vision.
We caught up with Ryan over email to discuss some of his favorite art spaces in LA. Recognizing a true lover of outsider art, we knew we’d get some great recommendations. Check it out:
1. Griffith Park/ Griffith Observatory/ The Greek Theatre
Griffith Park is home to some of my best Los Angeles memories, from experiencing the Dark Side of the Moon laser show and gazing through the massive Zeiss telescope as a kid, to attending several incredible concerts at the Greek Theater. Equally meaningful are the countless hikes and moments of reflection spent gazing out at the entirety of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean while soaking up the sun from its dusty trails. It is one of my favorite landmarks in any city and holds a very special place in my heart.
2. Brewery Art Walk
In addition to appreciating the sheer and vast array of artwork on display at the Brewery Art Walk—painting, sculpture, fashion, multimedia, installation—I love that it affords the opportunity to view artists’ works in the studios where they were created. Being able to discuss art in the very space it was created makes for a unique, communal viewing experience.
3. The Getty Museum
An obvious answer, but The Getty is simply too remarkable to leave off this list. The views, gardens, and architecture alone would merit mention. Combined with the world class exhibitions, artwork, and curation, The Getty is my top choice of museums in a city full of great ones.
4. Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens
I’m a big fan of botanical gardens, and those at Huntington are quite remarkable. I’m always awed and appreciative of how immediately transportive they can be.
I’m adding this space to my list as an in memoriam for what was a great local art dive. Located in a dingy strip mall in Filipinotown, it was everything an underground, non-profit art gallery should be and everything the other establishments on my list are not. It housed wild and weird art and welcomed local and touring indie rockers to its humble space to be loud and raw. I remember shows I played there over the years very fondly.
Check out the video for “Forc# Fi#lds” and be sure to pick up the album “Foreign Nature” when it drops on April 5th.