With the 2002 release of S.P.’s Live 2000, Chondritic Sound tunneled itself out from a dark corner of Detroit into the Noise community. The debut release, a 3-inch CDr in an edition of 23 copies featuring Chondritic director Greh Holger and Redrot’s Ryan Oppermann, set several templates for the label: limited and numbered releases; a stable of stock artists and ad hoc couplings (some, like S.P., exclusive to the label); a taste for the Noise and Death Industrial genres; and a focus on short recordings, specifically the little-used 3-inch CDr format.
Holger’s tastes ran toward the macabre in the early days, with releases by a spectrum of morose, dark, and harsh acts, including Redrot, Goat, Luasa Raelon, Teatro Satanico, Immaculate:Grotesque, Black Leather Jesus, and Moribund, as well as Holger’s projects Hive Mind, Black Sand Desert, and S.P. Though the occasional tape or full-sized CDr release made it onto the label, Chondritic made its aesthetic reputation on the strength of its many 3-inch CDr releases. Though 3-inch CDs and CDrs were hardly unheard of in experimental music, Holger’s standardizing of the format through his use of the mini-jewel case (allowing for a visible spine with title info), fold-over artwork featuring print and paint layers, and uniquely-painted CD faces (a thick, multi-layered paint technique both tactile and capable of great variety) created a new, replicable format, and helped popularize and legitimize of the short-form noise release. Incorporating more releases by local Midwest acts Wolf Eyes, Aaron Dilloway, Dead Machines, and Burning Star Core, the releases piled up and flew out of the door at lighting speed, owing to both the immediate popularity of the format and the limited editions of certain releases. The label also began to branch out into less death-obsessed acts, such as Ceylon Mange (pre-Bloody Stereo Dylan Nyoukis and Karen Constance), Pengo, Jazzfinger, Yellow Swans, and Sword Heaven, while keeping the morbid listeners sated with releases by Gate To Gate, Wilt, Josh Lay, and Bloodyminded. The label also ventured into more permanent media with LPs and a double-CD compilation titled At The End Of The Rope.
Around the time of 2007′s self-titled release by Crosse Humiliation, Chondritic shifted primary focus from 3-inch discs to cassettes, shifting through several phases of artwork and tape-painting style while continuing to release harsh noise and industrial acts like Wapstan, Failing Lights, Sick Buildings, and Chainfight, as well as younger Midwest acts like Tusco Terror, Andrew Coltrane, New Pledgemaster, and Evenings.
Starting in 2008 with the release of Martial Canterel’s Cruelty Reigns Through The Ages (released as both a single tape and a limited edition double-tape in a 5″ reel box, an increasingly common Chondritic format choice), the label began embracing more acts from the ambient, vintage synth, and darkwave genres, such as Silver Pearl, Pax Titania, and in-house band Crook & Scourge, alongside traditionally harsh acts like Skin Graft, Body Collector, and Ahlzagailzehguh. Though initially a fraction of the label’s output, this push toward beat-driven, ’90s industrial and EBM musics has become a main driver of the label’s sound and output.
Coinciding with a move to Los Angeles, 2009 is best known as the year Chondritic fell apart at the seams. Amidst personal and family emergencies, job loss, and temporary homelessness, creation and distribution of new releases, including many already paid for, ground to a standstill, losing the label many of its dedicated customers. 2010 featured fewer releases than any year in recent memory, while 2011 contained no new releases at all, save for a limited edition lathe-cut by Sissy Spacek.
Bruised by the previous years’ setbacks, Holger tentatively resumed operations with Chondritic in 2012, setting old mailorder and distribution obligations straight while retooling the label to reflect his increased taste for beat-driven synth darkness. Bands included Kama Rupa, Pure Ground, Liable for Abuse (Khris Reinsagen’s industrial dance project), and Sewn Leather, and the sound of Chondritic took a sharp turn from abstract chunks of rocky sound (the label name comes from a component of meteors) to song-oriented pieces with vocals, tone changes, and even a possibility of mainstream appeal.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, Chondritic continued to focus on tapes while also creating vinyl versions of longer-play releases, including new acts like Bad News, Image of Life, and Brotman & Short, while still servicing the underground with tapes by Jason Lescalleet and Jason Zeh, as well as Holger’s long-lasting Hive Mind project, now catching the familiar rhythm virus.
As 2013 ends, Chondritic has worked to again become a stable, prolific label, balancing quick order turnaround with a high quantity of new releases in an ever-changing array of genres, focusing on tapes and vinyl and, as ever, heading wherever Holger’s tastes and interests lead him.