German synthesizer guru Rüdiger Lorenz was barely known during his lifetime, but he had a prolific run as a recording artist, releasing no less than 18 albums, primarily on his own Syntape and Syncord labels. He also appeared on several cassette compilations in the early '80s alongside Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Iasos, and other more well-known electronic artists, and released a compilation LP titled International Friendship in 1983, which featured contributions from Maurizio Bianchi, Yoshi Wada, De Fabriek, and others. Southland, originally released in 1984, was Lorenz's second vinyl release, following 1983's Invisible Voices as well as four prior cassettes. The album resembles early-'80s abstract synth pop as much as it evokes cosmic synthesizer explorations, coming close to Jean Michel Jarre with a lower budget. Eastern-tinged "Strange Feeling" features the vocoderized voice of Lorenz's then-teenaged son Tim, and quirky, Tomita-esque "Francis and Friends" credits "vocals" to a Korg Polysix and a ring modulator. The album's second half features longer, more ambient pieces, and while it's easy to describe them as spacy or cosmic, most of Lorenz's work was actually inspired by Earth locations, particularly seas and islands. This album specifically points to lands such as Sandwich Islands, New Zealand, and Antarctica as particular inspirations for songs. So while Lorenz's music might come across as strange and otherworldly, it's actually more earthy and organic, with bright melodies and inviting tones. "Open Valley" features sounds approximating rushing water, and it's hard to tell if they're synthesized or sampled. Southland is a strong effort from a quietly innovative artist.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson