Magic Diner takes an outstanding start by means of some environmental noises, ranging from low passing jets to footsteps in a stairway (reminding me of Art of Noise's In No Sense Nonsense) transporting you seamlessly into what promises to become a warm piece of pulsating microtechno.
Suddenly however, a bell rings and the direction changes abruptly towards soundscapes with sequenzers performing their endless trance, not very Rother-like, but that would not be a problem if all this didn't turn into a preposterous filmic scene wherein a squeaking heavy wooden door is opened and the sound of religious songs emerge, not to forget accompanied by cathedral bells! After this ultimate clichhat is like a fusion between organ and WWII sirens, some questions about "The Time" are brought up. The sound of these dark mean buzzing sirens however is superb and maybe the whole track is very good, but one is still recovering from that cathedral door that better had been left shut.
Other religious sounding female vocals emerge - they sound truly nice - and eventually fade out into this monotonous drone of waves breaking on the shore. It doesn't sound dark and has something fragile about it because of the sparkling glass bells that keep tinkling all the way.
Final track is lethal: 4 minutes of singing birds! And the fact that they are ultimately sampled into, yes into what, into other singing birds, doesn't make it any better.
Much respect for Rother's work in general, but this Magic Diner is served with way too much cheese.
(review by Jean-Marc Dekesel)
apparently this album is inspired by/dedicated to metabolism. this really makes you wonder what anthony rother eats...
_magic diner_ is a nine-parter that compares pretty well to rother's first for fax, _elixir of life_. whereas EoL is very much in the mechanical, deep-space school of ambient, MD has a very earthly quality, in part due to more rhythmic sequences. the sounds are very lush without sounding organic, thick basses and full pads. like a less-human, mellower version of rother's _hacker_. into its bits -
pt I - one-minute intro of whooshing mechanics, cars driving by, jet engines, people walking around.
pt II - five minutes of germanically funky synth patterns, nice gated reverb envelopes.
pt III - one of the best on the disc. choir pads and arpeggiation, very kraftwerkian. synth string lead from 1973. doesn't do a whole heck of a lot in 11 minutes but never overstays its welcome.
pt IV - comes nicely out of III. similar sequences to II, but more 1970's synth strings like III. moody and subtly epic for 5 1/2 minutes.
pt V - mellotronish choir patch, a la the original "radioactivity". 2 1/2 minute interlude.
pt VI - kind of has a plastikman vibe as it starts with a very low-passed mono bassline and some reverbed kick. some voice filters up - he's german and he really wants to know what time it is. then a bit of a DSOTMIII drone lead and our friend is back, still needs to know the time. 8 1/2 minutes.
pt VII - really beautiful, especially after the slightly unsettling VI. lush pads and a solo female vocal, wordless and soaring. 5 minutes of sublime.
pt VIII - at 15 minutes long, the beginning sounds like it's going to build into something really epic. almost reminds me of the "big" tracks from the early _psychonavigation_ discs for the first few minutes (don't know why). instead of building, though, layers are more or less pulled away, going through some delayed percussion, synth swells and a mellow groovy sequence until we're left with a deep-space sounding, shimmering synth pad. this drops out to...
pt IX - birds and a light breeze. that's it. turns out the diner we've been at is in the countryside and we've been eating on the back porch.
(review by Micah Stupak)