You Are My Salvation - TF Interview & Album Review

You Are My Salvation - Album Review & Interview

[Jan 04, 2022]

You Are My Salvation has been a Trancefix favorite for a long time now and we’ve always enjoyed following and discussing his releases throughout those years on the forum, so the announcement of his first artist album, Part 1, was great news and had a lot of us excited.

His sound embodies a lot of different styles found in the underground scene, with hard hitting and detail rich Trance, Psy and Breakbeat flavoured music, all approached with a kind of mystical and dark essence. Below we'll be giving a review of this album, as well as a short Interview with YAMS aka John, following below. Enjoy!

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Album Review

News of the album broke a few weeks ago when samples began being shared in the forum, those of which sounding great and definitely got the blood flowing and head nodding, with some encouraging signs that this could indeed be another sweet album of the underground. I’m very happy to say that I was not let down, and after coming off the back of the hard hitting N3ON throughout 2021 I was ready to keep up the momentum and buckle up into another full power, high bpm head-banging hypnosis.

I always enjoy these types of albums as they don’t hesitate to jump straight in grab you, pulling hard and fast with a lot of big, upfront subs and percussive rhythms. Most of the tracks are around 9-12 minutes long and there’s no messing around in bringing the listener into that journey, taking the time to develop an idea and then fire them out the other side again. It makes for a really good hypnotic ride and one I have found myself coming back to over the 7 or 8 or listens I gave it before this review. The signature breakbeats can also be found in great supply and they offer nice variation from the 4/4 beats, making for some very memorable moments, particularly in tracks like Dawn which sounds lovely, with gorgeous drifting synths.

It was these melodic aspects that I found myself enjoying the most when listening to the album, with awesome breakdowns and takeoffs alongside some fantastic synth choices, which sounded beautiful when the finally come to life. The use of synths felt unique for each track, with a nice mix of climactic and intense, but also soaring and close the eyes feelings too. I love it when darker intense beats are married alongside more uplifting or emotional melodics, a combination which helps create that ground between the Trance, Progressive and Psychedelic worlds which is not a common thing to hear today, but one the album does so well.

Mercurial is an excellent example of this, and one of the standouts from the album, combining awesome driving build-up percussion alongside an emotional and catchy melodic hook that really hits home. Influences of Magnus were mentioned in our interview together, but anyone else hearing a touch of Solar Fields - Lift Off with the percussion?

The third track, Vittra, is also a monster. One of the best psychedelic tracks I have heard in a long time, with organic drums and sprinklings of haunting vocals and FX amongst the relentless percs really take you places. I could imagine myself going hard to it if played out at some outside event, it would be quite the experience.

I think some tracks might have benefited from seeing more of the details, effects and general mid-range elements taking on a larger prominence or space in the mix. There were a few instances where I felt some really nice or interesting sounding elements were too quiet or subdued, or perhaps other elements were too loud and intense. A stripped back or ‘‘less is more’ approach may have helped at times, as the instances where the tracks were allowed to breathe more really made them shine and feel more balanced. The secondary or smaller melodic/harmonic instances were something I really wanted to come through more, as I can only imagine it would have elevated the dynamic synth work already discussed.

It’s worth mentioning that this is a very hard style to get right. Various genre styles are blending, the lows are intense and thunderous and demand all the attention, and with lots of atmospheric sounds, reverbs and effect layers happening at once you can risk tracks becoming too chaotic, busy or unbalanced. It’s for these reasons you don’t find many producers pursuing this style and we should feel lucky to have a talent like YAMS who can work in this genre space with creativity and precision, giving us a unique and rare take on what it means to make modern underground Trance music. It’s certainly not for everyone, but there’s no denying an authenticity is felt in what’s being heard, as well as that connection back to the mystical side or ‘essence’ of Trance music, that was so synonymous in the early Goa scene.

I’d say it’s a journey built for the personal headphone experience. I know that’s a cliche, but it really rings true for this type of expansive album. Alternatively, it also feels equally well placed at some peak-time set, at some trippy event in a distant dark forest under the stars. It’s built both for the powerful inward experience and the powerful outward one, and that’s ultimately what makes this a great album and one worth of any underground Trance listeners collection.

The album will be released Jan 5th on Bandcamp. Please support the underground artists!

7.8/10

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Interview

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So how has your 2021 been both musically and personally

I think the two parts are connected in a way. First and foremost, 2021 has mostly felt like a repeat of 2020 with perhaps a little more glimmers of light. Personal life has been tough at times. Work from home and 4 children takes its toll :) But in several ways it has been a blessing in disguise to work from home. More time for the family and a little bit more time for the music. In terms of release, it has been thin. Mostly I have spent time learning the plugins I have. Create sounds, presets and browse Splice for that perfect clap-sample. But I actually have a catalog of songs that are ready. Both under You Are My Salvation but also under Twisted Design. The benefit of having different aliases that you use for different types of music is very useful for creativity. If I get tired of doing progressive Breaks one day, I do something more uplifting under my other alias the next. My problem, however, is that most of it unfortunately stays on my dropbox. But I have become better at testing my wings and sending them out

What inspired you to make this album, and what can you tell us about it?

I wish I could say that there is a theme for the album, but unfortunately there is not. I see the album as a kind of ending, or starting point, depending on how you look at it. The music on the album represents the last 10 years in some way. More or less the time I have produced seriously. There are several songs on the album that have been collecting dust on my hard drive for 10 years. Wanderers for example. I think the first project file was created around 2010. I finished all the songs on the album in 2021 but have started years earlier. So somehow it's the end. This is the first part of songs that I want to complete, but for some reason have not done so before. That is also the reason why the album is called Part I. There are almost finished, half-finished and finished songs for future parts, so it is quite difficult to say when Part II will be due. I think the album shows a bit of what You Are My Salvation is all about. There's a little bit of each, a little Breaks, a little Progressive, a little psy. That is probably the idea I have always had with the project. To be quite broad, but to be in the more "underground" part of the scene.


Why the self-release and not approach someone like JOOF or Forescape?

JOOF and Forescape have been a bit of my home ports. Maybe mostly Forescape in recent years. Of course, it would have been an honor to release the album on one of the labels, but in the end I felt that the album is a bit scattered, just the way I want it. So somehow it felt most right to release the album yourself. I see it a bit like a project in itself, to have full control over everything myself. From which songs should be included on the cover. However, I think I would have been highly involved if JOOF or Forescape had agreed to the album. Somehow I also feel that I need to get the album out of my system if that makes any sense. I've worked on it for 10 years. I don't want to spend a minute more in that particular project file to make some small edit. But when you release something on a label, it is always a release schedule and you are a bit dependent on someone else. But who knows, Part II might appear on some label, well see :)


You’ve been producing Progressive Breaks tracks regularly throughout the years but also dropping harder hitting Trance and Psy too. What graviates you to these genres and what makes them special for you?

It goes way back when I started getting into electronic music. One early experience was when I got in contact with the Destination Goa-compilations. That was the start of my love of Goa and psy. I also got into progressive house (when it actually was progressive house) and trance in the mid 90’s, that was the start of it all. I’ve always enjoyed the mysterious atmosphere of that type of music, and that is something I try to recreate in my music as well. Other inspirational artists are the Swedish progressive-movement in the early 00’s, with Vibrasphere and the whole Spiral Traxx-gang. Also the rhythmic driven prog that was associated with Coldharbour is a big influence. Melancholic and dark. But for breaks, I don't know, sometimes it's fun to not just have the usual 4/4-rhythm and spice it up a bit. I think the first break-track I did was my remix of Gary Delaney- The Nightmother. I was quite happy with the remix and it seems that it went down quite well with the listeners as well, so I kept going down the breaks-route. I must say that it's quite refreshing to hear that big artists such as Ferry Corsten and Anjunabeats artists are incorporating breaks in their tracks. Perhaps breaks are having some kind of resurgence

What’s your production set-up and the production approach when making this album?

I’m all software in the box. FL Studio is my choice of DAW. I really like the blocks in earlier editions, so I use both version 10, and the newest. I’m a plugin-junkie, so I do have a lot of plugins (though I only use a few).The freeware-scene especially interests me. There’s a lot of freeware synths and plugins that can rival the commercial ones. Just take Vital for example. I’ve never really got into Serum, but Vital does the same work more or less. My main arsenal for synths is Spire, Audjoo Helix (old but gold), Zebra and Kontakt. For fx-plugs the Fabfilter-series, especially FabQ and Saturn, are on almost every channel. For a freeware-alternative Variety of Sound have excellent fx-plugins as well. Another fx-plug that has become a lifesaver is Trackspacer. Excellent for ducking certain frequenicies. My latest purchase is a fx-plugin called Crystals Clear. It's done by the guys behind Metta & Glyde. It’s an enhancer that “cleans” out the muddiness. It will be fun to try that one out. A lot of my tracks are quite reverb-heavy so for reverb the Valhalla stuff is my go-to. Both Shimmer and Supermassive are awesome.

What’s the story and process behind Mercurial?

One of my favorite producers is Magnus. I really love his style of high energy and beautiful melodies. I was quite inspired by his work when doing Mercurial. I wanted to create a mix between psy and uplifting melodies. Fast paced melody-driven with psy-undertones

What are some of the your favourite Prog Breaks tracks of all time

There’s a lot of them, but if i had to pick i Would say that ‘Carl Cox - The phuture 2000 ‘(Hybrid Remix)' is my favorite of all time. Perhaps not the most progressive, but my favorite breaks track overall. You can't really overlook what Airwave has done to the Breaks scene either. It's hard to pick a favorite, but i Would say that ‘Laia’s Daydream (Airwave Breaks mix)’ is my favorite. Others that stand out for me are ‘Sonorous - Last Sunday’ and ‘C-quence - Endorphine (Hydroids Breaking the law Remix)’.

What’s it like to be an underground producer in 2021 and what advice would you give to someone who is trying to produce underground Trance and prog?

Well I don't think anyone would be surprised if i say that money is not the motivator. It's a pure hobby for me and I could not imagine a life without doing music. As I see it, especially for underground Trance, there are not a lot of outlets anymore for your non-standard uplifting or psy. If we are talking about progressive trance, i Would say there’s even less. Forescape Digital is one of the last to not turn the coat as the winds of commercialism/hype-trains are blowing. I guess somehow the phrase ”Progressive Trance'' has become somewhat lame or dirty. Everything is labeled Melodic Techno these days. Perhaps to attract a new or bigger crowd, or that you don't want to be associated with Trance. For me personally, I couldn't care less about genre-wars, but it has an impact when dealing with some labels. Melodic Techno is cool, progressive trance is not. In the end, I guess the most important thing is the music. If something that was labeled progressive 10-15 years ago is labeled Melodic Techno today, and is being played by big djs, who am i to complain? I just need to change my genre-tags on Soundcloud :)

So my advice to fellow producers would be don't think about what genre you Are producing, don't think about what others are doing, do what you want to do. If no one is willing to release it, release it yourself. Making music should be about the fun and an output of your own creativity. Not chasing what’s hot right now or what others are thinking or doing. Going your own way is the most rewarding most of the time.

I just want to thank you too, both the Trancefix crew for this interview, but also all forum members. I’m a daily visitor and really enjoy the discussions.
 
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Gagi

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Big thanks to @Sleeping for reaching out. Mercurial is my clear favourite from the album, what a track!
 

Electronlyman

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It's release day today !
I'm surely going to give it a listen.

Great review and love the interview!
Really like YAMS's approach to producing.
Myself, I have an album that was started about 6 years ago and it is still waiting to be finished,
so we must be similar in this aspect haha

I like his independent and expressive philosophy of producing music.
The last sentences, couldn't agree more!
As the lyrics of a well known classic say:

Cause you're freeeeeee. ...
To do what you want to do 😎


As to the first listening, will do it on my bedroom studio monitors,
a comfortable setting for me... Can't wait for that!


This was a very good review and interview!
Enjoyed that, thanks!

Especially happy about it supporting an independent artist,
very nice of you to do so!
 

erickUO

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Nice read.
I think 4AM is my most fav. Huge atmosphere there.

Also, never heard about Crystal Clear plugin. But now it's on my wishlist, thanks!
 
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HTY

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Thanks for the read. Also a fan of Mercurial and also Ael but only listened once so far
 
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Hoplite

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Nice read and album! Also love the Spiral Traxx label name drop, such a quality label for late 90s/early 2000s psy!
 
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Sleepy Robot

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Thanks for the interview and the great album. YAMS been one of my favorite artist since i discovered him, I think it was with his remix of Healing.

-Edit- and thanks for the Sonorous track, never heard it before but i like it :)
 
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TwinSilo

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It's a very good album, I like the intensity of the tracks and the darker tones. Would like even more delving into the psychedelic sounds for part II, and how about a downtempo track too, considering how good you Swedes seem to be at that.