Theo Jansen’ Strandbeests are animalistic creations powered by nature that almost lack description. Jansen studied science at the University of Delft Holland and after practicing as a painter for some seven years, began constructing large moving objects, the first of which was a functioning flying saucer that flew over the town of Delft in 1980, raising quite a commotion! His work has since evolved and now Theo creates a new type of nature, the Strandbeests, which are giant skeletal structures constructed of plastic yellow tubes and sails that generate power allowing them to “walk on the wind”. In time Jansen hopes to release herds of his Strandbeest, allowing them to live on their own and I must say, what a sight it will be!
Anyone who watched the Six Feet Under finale can instantly remember the strongly-emotional and highly addictive song from the closing credits. Even months later the song Breathe Me, by Sia remains in constant rotation in my iTunes catalog. The music video is almost as breath-taking as the song itself, totally beautiful. They shot most of the video with a form of stop motion animation using 2500 Polaroid pictures. Sia’s currently on tour through Europe with Zero 7 and you can download the Breathe Me MP3 from iTunes. If you’re unfamiliar with her music, definitely check her out. You can watch the video in Real Player or Windows Media Player.
Restaurants in the homeland aren’t what one might expect. Although soba and udon are daily fare at the thousands of noodle shops spread across Tokyo and nabe (a sort of rice stew made with fish or meat and vegetables) is a common lunch everywhere, specialties like tofu or sushi are more often found at establishments featuring only one or the other – this is the Japanese way. It was Americans who assembled the food groups to make the kind of restaurants most of us know – a commodity not all that common in Tokyo. One welcome visit to the more western version of the formula, Rainbow Roll in the convenient Minato-ku area, made us feel right at home. Rainbow offers seating at a small sushi counter, banquettes, tables, modern tatami spaces or at a long central counter island where eight of us shared most of the menu. A full selection of sashimi, nigari sushi and a variety of delicious rolls that include most of the familiar ones (dragon roll, spider roll, salmon skin hand roll and the namesake rainbow) made for an evening of high end dining on par with the top NY, LA or London best-ofs at about the same price point. Lovely tempura, sweet, creamy tofu and wonderfully flavorful, succulent soft shell crab were all winners. The uni was near perfection served with good sake, a modern, buzzing interior and sesame ice cream for dessert, who could ask for more?
It's funny how a band and/or CD, often by word of mouth, can surface long after its initial debut, such is the case with The Notwist's Neon Golden. The album was originally released in 2003, but was not immediately available in the United States. At first listen, the album is gentle and captivating, but it is only after completely immersing yourself several times that you will begin to feel the serenity of singer Markus Archer's vocals intertwined with the electronic beats, pulsing rhythms, and organic instrumentation! Most notable are the tracks Trashing Days, One with the Freaks, and Consequence, but the disk is definitely worthy of a listen from start to finish. Also, make sure to check out The Notwist's 2004 EP, Different Cars and Trains.