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Various Artists Open Space Volume 2

German label Figure follow up their 2020 compilation Open Space with a second volume that’s every bit as special. Despite wrapping itself in the banner of 'ambient', the release features some of the best IDM and laid-back electronics out right now.

Released: 6 December 2021
Open Space Volume 2

In the age of Bandcamp and self-hosting there’s been a surge in chill-out, IDM and ambient music. Most of it has been quite forgettable. It’s easy to make chilled, beat-less music with minimal effort and equipment, but to deliver more than just a vanilla background soundtrack can be quite a skill.

Figure label boss Len Faki sticks to the compilation’s script on ‘Lew Away’, and he's surrounded by some familiar and well-loved artists. Most notable is Brian Eno collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Laraaji, who delivers a soothing track titled ‘Beloved’ with wind chimes and lethargic piano over a background of insects delivering their midnight harmony.

The ever-excellent Future Beat Alliance once again show that electro does not have to be frenetic but can also be beautiful, relaxing and utterly timeless with ‘Memory Sketch’. John Beltran follows up with a heavenly techno-infused deep house cut that’s built around numerous angelic and choral voices.

Deep downtempo excursions are also to be found on Arthur Robert’s otherworldly, ethereal track ‘Remember Me’. Further down that sound spectrum we discover genuine ambient moments such as KMRU’s ‘In A Distance’ and the twists and turns of Biri’s arpeggiator-centred ‘Neverending Celestial Dance’.

This compilation feels like an updated blueprint for the rather splendid Logic Trance compilation from 1992. While that classic release has largely stood the test of time, I predict Open Space 2 will continue to bring pleasure to listeners in the mid 21st-century.