DiY collective founder Pete Whoosh started Spirit Wrestlers following a cancer diagnosis which led him to explore holistic treatment and reconnect with the healing power of music. Back in March 2019, the not-for-profit label launched The 52 Card Trick project, releasing tracks on a weekly basis for a year and donating the proceeds to chosen charities that support natural healing.
Packed with soothing sounds from known names including Hot Toddy, Brawther and Ex Friendly, alongside gems from local talent and beyond, as the project comes close to the end we look back at the breadth of releases and check out some highlights...
Untitled (Barry Afro Edit)
Digs and Woosh
Woosh is joined by fellow DiY founder and regular musical sidekick Digs to unearth a track that has been unheard since it was first made in the nineties. If the collective’s spiritual home was being surrounded by tunes outdoors, then this afro-beat reimagining of Barry White epitomises it, with upbeat ‘la la las’, funky guiro brushes and warm marimba melodies presenting the perfect soundtrack for sunny summertime sessions down at the Arboretum.
Nottingham Goose Fair
Pete Woosh and Julian Zizko
This field recording captures the crazy atmosphere of our beloved Goose Fair. We stroll past mounting and fading drum ‘n’ bass; laughs, screams, carousel steam organs, mechanical clattering, microphone-muffled voices (‘Another happy customer! We need more winners!’) for a joyfully nightmarish listen. It’s a dark tunnel with lights flashing on the periphery. To end: ‘Slow down, slow down.’ Wind chimes tinker and fade like the back end of a shire horse clopping into the shadows.
Spirit Wrestlers doesn’t stick to one genre, choosing to simply put out songs that fit in with its feel-good manifesto, so it’s a treat to see Seiko Sieta on the label. Born in Gambia but now Midlands-based, the renowned Kora player creates magic on the instrument he’s mastered so well, creating a soothing melody that’s fast and jittering but is grounded by regular, strong accents in each verse that form hypnotic repetition.
Three Body Trio
A shining example of Nottingham’s new-school talent represented on the label comes from Running Circle members and revered electronic jazz outfit, Three Body Trio. Leader is one of two Card Trick releases by this lot, offering up a slightly more structured slice of funk compared to Insects Awaken, its meditative, improvised counterpart. Expert warm, fuzzy ‘wah wah-ing’ synths and dusty percussion that seeps right into the soul and makes necks swing. Intergalactic funk packed with infectious peaks and troughs that ends on a chaotic high.
Nail – also known as Neil Tolliday and one half of Bent – has been humbly making our ears happy for decades. A known name amongst DiY followers and with regular releases on its many label offshoots, he’s another key player in Nottingham and the collective’s sonic history. Sicks harks back to his early-nineties output, giving us a good ‘n’ proper house track with key components of the genre such as piano keys, hi-hat bashes and a driving 4-4 beat placed together the only way Nail can.
Ganga & Cow
Testament to Whoosh’s open attitude to collecting music is Yusuke Hasegawa’s contribution to the project. Pete discovered the Japanese travelling musician after a string of street performances in Nottingham blew him away, and led to an ongoing friendship between the pair. Wholesome, earthly wails of the didgeridoo are combined with jaw harp twangs and strums of acoustic guitar, bringing us five minutes of trance-like state inducing sounds, described by the label as being ‘almost Led Zep like’.
Fans of vocal-led tunes aren’t left out with this stripped-back entry from musician and Phlexx label owner, Trekkah. Intricate drum beats, ranging from rich tamba sounds to short, sharp clock ‘ticks’ punctuate the track, offering a rolling groove that’s warmed up with keyboard chords. In comes Trekkah chanting the verse, with the harmonised vocals telling an environmental tale of the world’s demise, but a message of gooduns wanting to reverse its fate rings strong.