Review Summary: Nothing is for certain when darkness surrounds
If there’s one thing to commend MessFX for, it’s his continued combination of consistent quality and prolific work ethic; releasing 12 albums in 10 years, it’s impressive what a person can do when they have a vision for the layout of their sound for such a long period of time. It’s another matter entirely when said same blueprint gets switched profoundly for a new release, ‘A Step Back’ isn’t true to its title, as the UK native strips his sound down to new darker depths for an atmospheric and inspired 12th release.
An immediate style switch is reigns front and center here, as we receive an eclectic amalgamation of 90's dark techno in the vein of Romolo di Prisco, atmospheric glitch, and drone with hardstyle influxes sporadically, a vast departure compared to the happier and more retro influenced works of the past. The genuine uneasiness of tracks such as “False Sense of Security” is created by an excellently deft blend of subtle synth jabs mixed with harsh arpeggio progressions, and that theme of the dark and foreboding pervades throughout this release. That isn’t to say there aren’t more upbeat compositions here and there, the glimmering pads and shiny bells of “Crooked Man” demonstrate that MessFX can still vary up his compositions while keeping an overall theme. While the possible inclusion of heavier bottom line, occasional 808s and harder kicks would have upped the atmosphere even more, the more drawn back approach still fits the tone of the record and results in a listen that’s wholly rewarding.
MessFX can only go up from here, as he continues to prove throughout his compositions that not only is he an efficient composer, but one who’s willing to step outside his comfort zone even after such a long and established discography. ‘A Step Back’ shows that dark undertones are a strong suit for the UK composer, and hopefully it won’t be the last time that they’re displayed in his sound.