Rex The Dog
Rex the Dog is responsible for some of the most infectious and exuberant '80s-inspired electro house singles in a decade chock-full of them. 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 -- but 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. 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," but follow-up material was relatively slow to materialize -- "Maximize" followed in 2006; "Circulate" in 2007 on Kitsuné. Meanwhile, he produced remixes for Client, the Prodigy, the Sounds, Soulwax, Röyksopp, Mylo, 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 new pop-oriented productions, wasn't released until September of 2008, by which time the earlier tracks may have lost some of their novelty, but not their irrepressible joyfulness. 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. ~ K. Ross Hoffman
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