- "An excellent example of what can be achieved if you actually stay awake in your studio and don't just rely on three kicks per bar." That line from Om Unit, describing Negative Space, perfectly explains what makes Homemade Weapons one of drum & bass's most exciting producers: dynamism. Where many artists—Sam Binga, Fracture, Om Unit himself—have looked to other genres for inspiration, Andre Delgado takes drum & bass head-on, crafting a deadly halftime sound marked by precision. On records for Samurai, he stripped the genre down to its core components, making steely beats that cut like a well-sharpened knife. It might sound cheesy, but Delgado's music is really about drums and bass, and getting those two elements exactly right. Negative Space isn't just heaven for beat science junkies, it's one of the best straight-up drum & bass albums in recent memory.
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.
03. Retina feat. Red Army
06. Tidal Track
08. Jawbox feat. Gremlinz
09. Conduit VIP
10. Red Herring
11. Third Rail
12. Killing Moon