The Black Dog was founded by Ken Downie along with Ed Handley and Andy Turner. Regarded as legends by some, the group are pioneers who, along with acts like Autechre, Aphex Twin, µ-ziq and LFO, came to define the techno movement known as intelligent dance music (IDM) in the early 1990s. In 1989, The Black Dog was unable to find a label to back its releases and started its own, Black Dog Productions, which released four vinyl records. After a few vinyl EPs on General Production Recordings, The Black Dog released its first full-length album Bytes on Warp Records on 15 March 1993. The albums Temple of Transparent Balls (GPR) and Spanners (Warp) followed. The music was often produced under a number of different names, such as Close Up Over, Xeper, Atypic, I.A.O., Balil and the Discordian Popes. The group did numerous remixes, notably for Björk, with whom it collaborated on "'Sweet Intuition" and "Charlene". In 1995, Handley and Turner left to focus on Plaid but Downie continued working as The Black Dog on his own for a while, releasing the solo album Music for Adverts (and short films). With new management, and an increased vigour, Downie then teamed up with Steve 'Hotdog' Ash and Ross Knight ("thek1d"). Though they completed over a dozen critically acclaimed remixes during this period, only one album was ever released: Unsavoury Products featured the talents of Parisian beat poet Black Sifichi on vocals.
In 2001, Downie teamed up with Richard and Martin Dust, owners of the label Dust Science Recordings. Since then, they have started to play live again and have released eight EPs and four full-length albums on Dust Science. Their first album, Silenced, was released in 2005. The second, Radio Scarecrow, was released in 2008 and was very well received and nominated for DJ Mag’s Best of British 2008. The follow-up to Radio Scarecrow, Further Vexations, was released in 2009. It was described as having a dark cynicism of Orwellian practices of government and the passivity of the general public. "We’ve helplessly watched with mounting horror, while the government trashed the country, signed away its sovereignty to Brussels (with a flourish of a specially minted silver pen), sold off precious national industries and assets at next to bargain basement prices, and indulged itself with two utterly pointless wars which it couldn’t afford," the group stated on their home page. In May 2010, the Black Dog teamed with creative agency "Human" to create Music For Real Airports, described by them as "a contemporary reply to Brian Eno's work from the 70s". While Eno's album is well known for being peaceful and sedate, The Black Dog intend theirs to be tense and bittersweet, saying "This record is not necessarily a comfortable listen. But it captures the spectrum of emotions stirred by airports."