One of the most important producer / remixers of the disco era, Walter Gibbons changed the rules of the remix with his work for Salsoul, creating stripped back arrangements for the dancefloor. His best work is collected together by Strut for the ‘Jungle Music’ compilation including mixes for Strafe and Double Exposure.
Walter Gibbons remains one of the most important and unheralded DJ / remixers in New York dance music history, a pioneer of reel to reel edits and the art of the remix and a tangible link between early hip hop and disco through his quickfire turntable skills developed during the mid-‘70s.
At his famed residency at Galaxy 21 (alongside a then young percussionist, Francois Kevorkian), Gibbons perfected his turntable prowess, mixing two copies of records seamlessly at a similar time to Kool Herc’s famed block parties across town in the Bronx in 1975. He was among the first to make his own reel to reel edits of tracks, extending breaks and restructuring tracks specifically for the dancefloor. As a direct result, he was the first DJ to be granted access to multi-track tapes as Ken Cayre’s Salsoul Records brought him in to re-work Double Exposure’s ‘Ten Percent’ in ‘76, a mix that would set the blueprint for disco, the 12” format and all future dance music mixes.
Gibbons would become a prolific remixer for Salsoul and developed a style his contemporaries called ‘Jungle Music’, a raw, uncompromising approach to DJ-ing and mixing which often extended tracks to 10 minutes plus with tribal percussion breaks and off-the-cuff, unexpected production touches. This compilation focuses on some of the more adventurous and ground-breaking mixes that Gibbons produced during the disco era including a freeform treatment of Dinosaur L’s ‘Go Bang’, Paradise Garage favourite ‘You Are My Love’ by Sandy Mercer and underground disco rarity, ‘I’ve Been Searching’ by Arts & Craft.
Into the ‘80s, Gibbons continued to break new ground. One of his recognised classics, ‘Set It Off’ by Strafe, fused electro, disco and New York post-punk in a genius re-work, later reprised on the proto-house version he recorded as Harlequin Fours with a young Barbara Tucker on vocals. He also worked with Arthur Russell during the mid-‘80s and became one of the only remixer / producers that Russell would trust with his work. Gibbons’ mixes of Indian Ocean’s ‘Treehouse / School Bell’ and Russell’s ‘Let’s Go Swimming’ are now acknowledged classics.
Walter Gibbons found religion and had stopped producing by 1986, although he continued to DJ with a much heavier slant towards gospel. He died of AIDS-related illness in 1994.