Stylish Ramen

THE JAPAN TIMES takes a look at how a lot of ramen shops are going upmarket.

Ramen has long been known as a staple of construction workers and penny-pinching students. But in a push to win over new clientele, ramen chains are going upscale, serving special pork and organic vegetables at eateries featuring dark-wood interiors and soft lighting. One company even came up with a form of diet ramen made from seaweed extracts. This dish weighs in at a meager 8 calories.

Shiodome Ramen is calling me…

Rhythmus Modern

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Last night I went to the release party of the 2003 FutureDesignDays book and movie. At the event this great band (actually music collective) called Rhythmus Modern was playing. They played a sort of dance driven live muzak, and the guy playing tambourine was easily one of the coolest dudes I’ve seen on a Swedish stage for quite a while. He reminded me of Bez from Happy Monday, dancing around like crazy with a totally braindead face expression. Now I have to get some more info about this band (and hopefully some sound samples).

bez

Update (16/08/21): This post was part of a week-long “Next Century Modern Blog” stint, by guest blogger Jesper Larsson.

Remix Vol. 1 for Modernica

I’m presently enjoying my Golden Week holidays, and today is an especially beautiful and sunny day, in fact a perfect day to surround myself with sounds from the recently released compilation REMIX VOL. 1 FOR MODERNICA (which you can buy online from the wonderful Jet Set Online Shop), a sort of followup to the recent Comoesta Yaegashi comp, BGM VOL. 1 FOR MODERNICA. Features remixes of tracks found on BGM by folks like Plus-Tech Squeeze Box, Yoshida Tetsuto, Iwamura Manabu, and Comoesta. “Happy lounge dance” indeed.

Paper Sky 9 and BOOK246

A new issue of PAPER SKY is out (9), and it looks like they’ve launched a new English version of their site (although only the Japanese version has info on the new issue). I imagine this is to coincide with the launch this month of a new US edition of the magazine.

Paper Sky is pleased to announce the release of its US edition. We will be celebrating the release throughout the Spring and look forward to meeting our readers at events around the country. Check back in the coming days for a list of places where you can find the magazine and us this year.

Also, the Japanese site has news of the opening of a new bookshop in Aoyama produced by PAPER SKY. Scheduled to open May 12, it’s called BOOK246 (the site doesn’t have any content yet) and will have a travel theme, with a touch of style (like the magazine itself).

Lattice Aoyama 1F
1-2-6 Minami-Aoyama
Tel: 03-5771-6899
Access: 2 minutes from Aoyama 1-Chome station

Looking forward to checking it out!

Tokumaru Shugo

ml12nightcover01Trevor, in town recently and the special guest at last week’s Tokyo Fun Party, runs an indie label from New York called Music Related. The next release is from Tokyo native Tokumaru Shugo, an album called NIGHT PIECE. If you go here, you can download an MP3 preview mix of the album, which I’ve ended up listening to 3-4 times. The official release is May 11, but you can pre-order the album now (which I’ve done) for 8$. Can’t wait for it to get here so I can listen to the whole thing.

On Shugo Tokumaru’s “Night Piece, ” the 23-year old Tokyo native bends the most gentle and familiar pop sounds into a bittersweet backroad journey through a dreamy, imaginary countryside. The instruments are often conventional, but the sound never strays from surprise and bewilderment: Acoustic guitars are almost never strummed, but pluck out exact rhythms and slide from note to note in amazing melodies. Shugo can conjure up the ghosts of bygone Brian Wilson-summers one second only to turn the corner into the best Southern road-movie ever. Even when he stumbles into experimental territory with psychedelic drones, super-fast guitar licks, and jarring backwards-riffs, he retains a quiet honesty. Nothing is forced or “show-off”: “Night Piece” is merely the beautiful pop that flows through Shugo Tokumaru’s world.

Designing a Mask

A Dutch designer gives the surgical masks that most Japanese wear when they have a cold, or to fight allergies (pollen in the air), a design twist. Read the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE article.

From Tokyo to Naiagara

7124_2The album seeing the heaviest play at Casa Snow these days (or on the iPod) is Tujiko Noriko‘s FROM TOKYO TO NAIAGARA, released on the Tomlab label. Combine a haunting voice backed with restrained atsmospheric electronics and you get something that has grabbed a hold of me. Think recent Bjork, but cooler. My biggest regret now is not having seen the live show she gave at Aoyama Cay last month. Stupid, stupid, stupid Jean… This month’s issue of online design zine SHIFT has a review of the show she gave at the Soso Cafe in Sapporo (the day before her Tokyo gig).

The world brought to us by her unique lyrics is one of her attractive points. Words produced from her unique sense sometimes surprise us and reach our heart. Apparently, she had been away from music for a while and worked on a film as a scenario writer and a director. Any specific schedule hasn’t been set yet but she is thinking of holding a screening event of the film. It must be an interesting work as long as I imagine from her sense of music. It is a great news for her fans that she is going to release a new album in the fall this year. We should keep our eye on Tujiko Noriko.

Home with HIRD + G-PER

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Today I met up with swedish artist HIRD. After a coffee we went to his studio (Pic 2) to listen to his newly finished album, due for release in Japan in August. Some tracks featured the lovely voice of Yukimi Nagano, mostly famous for her work with swedish duo Koop.

I didn’t get a chance to make up my mind about the album, cause there was so many other interesting things (pic 3) in his messy studio that caught my attention. Like a calender from one of my favourite swedish satire / comic artists; Jan Stenmark (pic 5). I really liked the optimistic message of this one: the guy on the left says “One day we are all gonna die” and the right one goes “All the other days we shall not”

HIRD, or Christoffer, is an active man. He’s currently involved in the preperations for Tokyo Style in Gothenburg, but also one of the artists at Everwanting Streets, another event taking place in Gothenburg.

After meeting Hird and some other people I went home to my friend G-Per who also makes music (I’m eager to hear him record the lyrics for his future hit; working title “Keep on Truckin”) and also has a messy apartment. Both me and G-Per loves the design of the new European Championship in Soccer-cans by Coca-Cola (Pic 1). He also kept telling me that you shouldn’t leave the house unarmed (Pic 4).

Update (16/08/21): This post was part of a week-long “Next Century Modern Blog” stint, by guest blogger Jesper Larsson. The photos are no longer available.