Writ on Water began in 1991 when Daniel Johnson and Jeff MacKey were joined by drummer Joel Hughes. After early three-piece live efforts proved limiting, guitarist Miles Williams was brought on board in late ’91 to form the complete original lineup.
Having signed with Blonde Vinyl in early 1992, the band went into the studio with producer Christopher Colbert and recorded Sylph, which was released in December of that year. Unfortunately, financial difficulties led to the dissolution of the label in early 1993.
The band had already begun working on 4-track demos for what was intended to be the second Blonde Vinyl release, to be called The Greyest Day, and after Joel and Miles left to pursue other interests, Daniel and Jeff completed the demo project. With no new deal in the offing, the album was ultimately abandoned, and Daniel and Jeff took a long hiatus.
By 1999 the internet was beginning to increase independent options for music distribution, and with the assistance of friend and long-time supporter Chris Nandor, Daniel and Jeff released The Greyest Day Sessions: 1992–1994, essentially cleaned-up versions of the original demo tapes. Following this venture, Jeff and Daniel recorded six additional tracks that had been written and/or performed live during the same time period as The Greyest Day. This session became the Pelléas EP, which was released in 2000.
Daniel and Jeff commenced work on a larger project of new material in late 2000, with Jeff’s cousin Jared Mackey (Exray) contributing drums, and recording continued through early 2002. This project also included a guest appearance by Writ on Water's close friend Jon Sonnenberg of House of Wires/Travelogue. This finally project reached fruition after several years on the shelf concurrent with the re-launch of writonwater.com as A Wingless King.
The A Wingless King recording sessions also spawned two additional, disparate groups of material, the Wunderzeit and Ancestral Echo EPs, made up of material written around the same time. The Wunderzeit tracks were originally written for and performed in several acoustic sets Jeff performed in Southern California during the Summer of 2001, while the Ancestral Echo material is more along the lines of the band's more familiar expansive minimalism. These two releases were co-released on a single CD in November of 2008.
In 2009, shortly after the release of the 2008 EPs, Jeff, Daniel and drummer Matt Akery began recording tracks for a proper release of The Greyest Day, which is set for release in November of 2014. The album's release comes on the 20th anniversary of its originally anticipated Blonde Vinyl release, when it was intended as the follow-up to Sylph. The album features a track listing very close to the original demos, with the exception of the re-ordering of two tracks, the deletion of "Windsor" and the addition of two live tracks from that same time period, "Points on a line" and "This ragged soul." The band is also planning another EP release for 2015 featuring additional material related to The Greyest Day.