Mates’ Crates: Fab Mayday – Avventura in Guinea

Mates’ Crates, a series headed up by our friend Andrei Sandu, dives into the tales behind records and digs deeper into our connections to music. These are not reviews, they’re stories. Up next,  Fab Mayday’s Avventura In Guinea

Label: Porn Wax | Year: 2012 | Discogs: Fab Mayday – Porn Wax One

Exploring the origins of this limited-pressing adventure in leftfield edits took me down a real rabbit hole.

Almost three years ago now, I found myself in Barcelona’s Discos Paradiso, rightly revered by Vinyl Factory as one of the world’s fifty best record stores. Opened in 2010 by a pair of crate-diggers who used to sell flea market finds on Discogs, the obsession with rarities shines through in the well-curated collection.

Thumbing through the crates, I came across a hand-stamped, plain-sleeved 10″ with 134/300 scribbled on in marker pen. After discovering that it was pressed on fluorescent pink vinyl, Porn Wax One had certainly caught my attention enough to warrant a listen.

I can only describe my first listen as captivating. The A-side, Avventura in Guinea opens with a minute of rolling drums and some ‘eastern’ strings (excuse my ignorance) before giving way to a baseline whose simple, driving force reminds me a little of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. Its a mesmerising roller which only breaks a few times to play out a bit more of the forgotten gem it samples (I don’t know what it is, but would love to find out).

On the flip, Mogollar (listen here) samples a 1970 tune called Garip Çoban (translates to ‘Lonesome Shepherd’) by Turkish psychedelic rock group Moğollar (translates to ‘Mongols’). Active since 1967 and still going today, they are recognised by many as founders of Anatolian rock, a genre which incorporates elements of Turkish folk. Fab Mayday’s club-ready edit layers Moğollar’s haunting vocals over more rolling drums and instruments I don’t have a good enough ear to identify. I can see it fitting in the same way I’ve heard both Ricardo Villalobos, Hunee and others slot Ahmed Fakroun’s Gelty into sets at Fabric.

The two weird and wonderful edits are by Italian DJ and producer Fab Mayday, whose lovingly-translated Facebook biography asserts that “his productions makes people dancing around…“. The label is part of the eclectic Tusk Wax family, alongside Horn Wax, 90’s Wax and Trance Wax. This interview with its … eccentric … founder reveals a fair bit about their philosophy. It seems Fab Mayday returned to Porn Wax, for the label’s tenth release, with some more equally-weird, equally-wonderful productions, of which I rate Viaggio In Gambia in particular.

My struggle to find online rips of the two tracks on Porn Wax One, my half-fulfilled challenge to find the originals that Fab Mayday sampled, and my unexpectedly enjoyment of Garip Çoban made me reflect a bit on vinyl edit culture. It is ever more common to find producers who pride themselves on digging out the rarest lost gems, sampling them and releasing vinyl-only limited-pressing edits. And that’s great, but where does it all fit into the music discovery experience? Limited pressings offer both producers and buyers a coveted sense of exclusivity, building a hype that may not materialise if (literally) infinite copies of an MP3 are available on Juno.

Of course, there’s the financial angle, as Tusk Wax put it in the interview linked above, “too many labels fall by the wayside after trying to press too many units. Best to keep small and fun rather than adding the risk of the need to sell a bunch of records.” But then other limited pressings would have no problem selling ten times more copies than were produced. I wondered a bit about a producer’s goal.

Is it simply to record a piece of music that they’re happy with? Or, by digging deep, are they hoping to introduce others to lost or under-appreciated music that they love? Most likely, it is a balance of both, but if the aim does ever lean more towards curatorship, is a limited-pressing record with nothing but a logo on the label the best way to point people towards obscure gold like Garip Çoban?

A closing bit of trivia; it turns out Sony used Moğollar’s Garip Çoban in their 2007 This Is Living advertising campaign for the PlayStation 3. The ad is unbelievably weird, overly-sexualised and probably wouldn’t be allowed today, but Garip Çoban starts at around 2:50. How did the veteran Turkish rock pioneers feel about their track being played over visuals of a man in a thong lying in bed fondling a football as a means of advertising a games console? I’m not sure, but I can only assume they were at least consulted…