Whit Dickey first stepped into the spotlight as a leader with the release of his Transonic album from Aum Fidelity in 1998. Two years later, Wobbly Rail issued his Big Top release. Previously, he was best known for his solid work with Matthew Shipp and David S. Ware, with whom Dickey split in 1996. Early the following year, the drummer began composing the works that would be included on Transonic. Dickey penned all but two songs, "Kinesis" and "Second Skin," on the collection, and he even had a hand in those with the help of his fellow musicians on the album. The original compositions gave a nod to the influence of "Criss Cross" and "Off Minor" from the legendary Thelonious Monk. Dickey recorded the album with the aid of Rob Brown on flute and alto saxophone and Chris Lightcap on bass.
Dickey recorded half a dozen of his compositions with Mat Maneri, Shipp, and Brown under the name Nommonsemble, and put out Life Cycle through AUM Fidelity. A year later, he recorded as a member of Trio Ahxoloxha on Prophet Moon, featuring guitarist Joe Morris and alto saxophonist Rob Brown. Dickey then expanded the trio into a quartet with trumpeter Roy Campbell and released a handful of albums, including 2004's Coalescence, 2005's In a Heartbeat, and 2006's Sacred Ground. In 2009, he paired with multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter and pianist Eri Yamamoto for Emergence. Also around this time, he joined pianist Shipp for a series of albums that culminated in 2014's Duke Ellington homage To Duke. Two years later, he collaborated with cornetist Kirke Knuffke on the duo album Fierce Silence. In 2017, Dickey once again reunited with Shipp and Maneri for the trio session Vessel in Orbit.