There's an immense force behind Delgado's music, but he rarely makes a show of it. "Hawkeye," which opens the album like a statement of intent, is all rigid tension until the first few Amen clips hit. They land hard and almost random, pushing the track into higher gear until it becomes a flurry of drum sounds. Delgado has a knack for structure and arrangement. Rather than looping a few samples for six minutes, he's constantly on top of the track, adding new elements to keep it exciting. Listen to the way he weaves breaks into the careful framework of "Conduit VIP," or how he and frequent collaborator Red Army craft the empty spaces on the ultra-taut "Retina." There's never a moment of complacency for Delgado.
Every track on Negative Space approaches drum & bass orthodoxy from a different angle. Put "Retina" next to "Ironhead"—a jaw-dropping tune whose heavily gated drums hit with a dull thwack—and it could be the work of two different artists. Delgado doesn't need big guest appearances or vocal hooks to break up monotony. He's actually best at his most minimal, like the vaporous but walloping "Echoes."
Even more than techno, drum & bass sticks to its rules and history. On Negative Space, Delgado negotiates that history with subtle tweaks, interjections and zig-zags, while remaining true to his influences. It's the first album released on Samurai after the family reorganized to focus Horo on experimental music and the parent label on essential, straightforward drum & bass. Negative Space is certainly essential: it's drum & bass at its purest, most potent form.