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Rex The Dog

Rex the Dog is responsible for a bounty of infectious and exuberant '80s-inspired electro-house tracks. Before veteran producer Jake Williams (aka JX) stepped forward to officially confirm rumors of his involvement, the mystery surrounding Rex the Dog's identity garnered a fair amount of attention in electronic circles. However, it never overshadowed the music itself, with its recognizable, impressively durable template of simple, sturdy midtempo beats, buoyant burbling bass, and melodic but constantly mutating portamento synth riffs (and occasionally vocals) flanged and filtered into delirium. Following a series of well-received singles on Kompakt and Kitsuné, all adorned with simple cartoon illustrations by Williams himself, the producer released the full-length The Rex the Dog Show in 2008. In addition to remixes for artists such as Robyn, Fever Ray, and Röyksopp, Rex the Dog has collaborated with Kris Menace and DJ Haus, and continued to release solo singles such as 2023's "Change This Pain for Ecstasy." Williams scored multiple mainstream house hits (including several top 20 U.K. singles) throughout the '90s under the monikers JX, Mekka, and Oblik, and as a member of Planet Perfecto, but sometime after the turn of the millennium he struck out in a less overtly commercial direction, adopting the Rex the Dog alias in reference to 1950s DC Comics character Rex the Wonder Dog. He tracked down a Korg 700S synthesizer built in 1974 (the year of Williams' birth), after learning that it had been used on the Normal's "Warm Leatherette" and Depeche Mode's Speak & Spell album, and used it almost exclusively to create the tracks for the first two Rex 12"s, Prototype and Frequency, which appeared on Kompakt in 2004. Both of these releases proved immensely popular with DJs and compilers, as did the Rex remix of the Knife's "Heartbeats." "Maximize" followed in 2006, and "Circulate" appeared in 2007 on Kitsuné. Meanwhile, he produced remixes for a long list of artists including Client, the Prodigy, Röyksopp, and his heroes Depeche Mode, as well as another for the Knife and Robyn's "Who's That Girl" (which was produced by the Knife). The full-length debut The Rex the Dog Show, which compiled shortened versions of the four 12" A-sides (and the majestic B-side "I Look into Mid-Air") along with two remixes and six more pop-oriented productions, was released by the artist's Hundehaus imprint in September of 2008. Nearly as endearing as the neon nostalgia of the music is the cartoon artwork featured in Rex the Dog's record covers, videos, website, and live visuals, all drawn by Williams, which depict him alongside his dog (he habitually refers to Rex the Dog as "we") engaged in all sorts of ordinary and extraordinary exploits. Following the album's release, Rex the Dog resurfaced in 2011 with "POW!," a collaboration with Kris Menace issued by Compuphonic. "Do You Feel What I Feel," with dramatic yet playful falsetto vocals by Jamie McDermott of the Irrepressibles, was released by Southern Fried Records in 2013. Rex returned to Kompakt with "Sicko" and the three-song EP You Are a Blade in 2015. Continuing to produce and perform music using a self-built modular system, Rex issued further Kompakt singles "Teufelsberg" (2016), "Crasher" (2018), and "Vortex" (2019). He also appeared on Unknown to the Unknown's modular sublabel Soft Computing, releasing "Experimental Housing" and "Transmitter" (with label founder DJ Haus) in 2019. The remix EP Versions was released by Kompakt in 2020, and the trancey, arpeggio-heavy single "Change This Pain for Ecstasy" arrived in 2023.
© K. Ross Hoffman & Paul Simpson /TiVo


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