Before I move on to the 2000’s I have to mention the goth-rock-avante-jazz band that I helped found in 1986 and played in until 1993. The music of Wept was beyond classification because its members were all insane in one way or another. The founding class of ’86, James Chandler, Xopher Davidson (aka antimatter), Wili Vorticiti (Xarrier mastermind), and myself were part of a downtrodden species that haunted Langley High, the anonymous brick school designed by prison architects because of its radically close adjacency to the CIA. Rudenotse (who would later join as drummer) named us and our cohorts ‘abertrods,’ which in his own personal tongue meant a hybrid between genius and ineptitude.

wept

basement show circa 1987

basement show circa 1987, photo: Mike Shushan

Before I move on to the 2000’s I have to mention the goth-rock-avante-jazz band that I helped found in 1986 and played in until 1993. The music of Wept was beyond classification because its members were all insane in one way or another. The founding class of ’86, James Chandler, Xopher Davidson (aka antimatter), Wili Vorticiti (Xarrier mastermind), and myself were part of a downtrodden species that haunted Langley High, the anonymous brick school designed by prison architects because of its radically close adjacency to the CIA. Rudenotse (who would later join as drummer) named us and our cohorts ‘abertrods,’ which in his own personal tongue meant a hybrid between genius and ineptitude.
Jesus Wept [Wake I, 1986]

The first compilation from 1986 outlines the beginnings of the ‘abertrods’ formation through doses of poetry, angst, irony, and psychedelia. The amoeba-like organization of the band would sometimes expand to include Darrow Han and others in performances like Those that blurred the lines between recorded and live:

Boiler Room on the other hand caught the leanings of a more psycho-pop-goth sound that borrowed from local DC legends 9353:

 

members
wili vorticiti: bass
xopher davidson: vocals, guitar
james chandler: guitar
jh0st: keyboards, alto saxophone
with guests:
darrow han: violin, drum
Rudenotse [Wake II, 1987]

The following year the line-up converged into a rock ensemble with Rudenotse on drums. The only problem was that ‘Rudey’ believed that he was playing in 9/8 time when in reality all the songs were in straight 4/4. In retrospect this ‘inept-genius’ fluke led to a series of songs like Telekaster that were dark and gothic in tone while remaining improvisational in a jazz-like way.

Songs like Astrophel began to stray from the more American DC sound to the ether-angst of what was coming from the UK airwaves.

…And one of my personal favorites from this album, Fire Escape fuses Xopher’s melancholy lyrical abstraction with the piano explorations found on my solo work Resonance.

 

members
wili vorticiti: bass
xopher davidson: vocals, guitar
rudenotse: drums
jh0st: keyboards, alto saxophone
Starball Contribution [Wake III, 1987]

In the same year, Christopher Wassell took the drum throne on the tails of Rudenotse’s imminent cross-country train-hopping trek. Having played in punk-metal bands in Japan, the fellow skate-punk immediately aligned with the abertrodisms on the Wept air waves and his heavy style was perfect in place and time – indeed it was the rhythm that continued to push Wept’s overall sound to new dimensions. Songs such as Alleysheba tapped into the most goth-pop that Wept would dare tread before withdrawing again into more avante shadows on later albums…

While Starball was the most accessible of all the Wept works, hidden within its polished dark wave ether were heavier rock fantasies like Odom with sounds of metal that would later morph into Vorticite’s present day project, Serpent’s Exile where I would collaborate as guest vocalist. Having switched from keyboard to guitar, this tune was a watershed moment for me in realizing the noise-potential of 6-strings.

Starball refined the melancholy ballads of Wake II in songs like Grabber that can make any grown person weep in gothic bliss… It was IReverend Brainskan‘s iconic keyboard work that in fact holds the whole album together with a ghostly blue hue.

 

members
wili vorticiti: bass
xopher davidson: vocals
christopher wassell: drums
ireverend brainskan: keyboards
jh0st: guitar
Exit [Wake IV, 1988]

My personal favorite Wept album ‘Exit’ came full circle with the avante roots of Wake I while conjuring the full sonic power of a rock band. Songs like Spectre bring Vorticiti’s fluid bass style to the foreground allowing a modal backdrop for Xopher’s stark poetics.

Visionary takes a new turn mixing existential narrative analogy with subtle improvisational structures. This was Wept’s ensemble playing at its height.

The posed darkness of previous work that leaned too much on gothic ‘style’ unraveled into real darkness in songs like Deforest. While Wept had gained a following playing at legendary venues such as DC Space, Exit undid our fan-base by earning a scathing review from Fugazi’s Ian Mackaye who called out our music as filled with ‘negative energy.’ Mackaye’s ultimately derivative work should be reserved for another post, but what I will say now is his indie-mafia bullying and censorship stamped out the shards of creative energy that could have made the DC scene incredibly vital.

 

members
wili vorticiti: bass
xopher davidson: vocals
christopher wassell: drums
ireverend brainskan: keyboards
jh0st: guitar, alto saxophone
Winter Solstice [1988]

By the end of 1988, Wept had officially disbanded but its core members gathered together for a fateful winter evening. We busted out the Xopher-modded drum machine and tracked some psychedelic dark wave in the form of songs like Tea Room, an homage the basement space where all the Wept work was recorded on 4 tracks

 

members
wili vorticiti: bass
xopher davidson: vocals, guitar, bass
tr-808: drums
jh0st: guitar, keyboard
93:05 [1993]

This improptu gathering in New York to record two songs deserves a whole separate chapter. Seven years after Wept’s formation, we had all somehow become like weathered jazz-cats that could lay down improvised sonic noise like in this epic song Glass Insulator based on Vorticiti’s signature bass work.

…and also like experienced session musicians, we took the song Ikon from the previous album Exit to a new level…

members
wili vorticiti: bass
xopher davidson: vocals
matthew mcguigan: drums
jh0st: guitar

In 2015, word on the street says Wept is back with core members Vorticiti and Xopher and new/old abertrod rockers stepping in on guitars and whatever else is needed. From the hours of experiments on tape, what will be their future in the new digital realm? The future/past Will B. seen…

For the full albums and stories on Wept and beyond, visit their pages on Xarrier and Facebook….

 

gig flyer etching - jh0st 1987

gig flyer etching – jh0st 1987