Minneapolis miscreants Cock E.S.P. have been barfing a steady flow of releases in myriad and confounding formats since the early 1990s. Front dude Emil Hagstrom has carved out a distinct niche for the unit in the U.S. extreme noise scene, though owing to the business model established by late-’80s/early-’90s Japannoise transgression. And indeed it is with Historia De La Musica Cock that Cock E.S.P. offers its own bizarre homage to formative influences far and wide, using their own uproarious version of the “Nurse With Wound list” as a compositional guide.
To review this record using a typical blow-by-blow approach would be a useless exercise. Think of it instead as a great gift for the avant-noise neophyte in your life (and we’ve all got one of those, right?). You’ll hear pretty much everything from harsh static blasts, to unidentifiable field recordings, Nondor Nevai-esque free associative rambling, tinny grindcore/black metal slop and free jazz blurting over the 99 tracks and 40 minutes. And it all blows by briskly, making for an oddly varied (if not satisfying) listening experience that recalls the quick-cut editing aesthetic of To Live and Shave in L.A. or even Merzbow’s Batoutzai with Material Gadgets. It’s a concept I would have expected fully from one particular freak from my hometown of Greensburg, Pa., who would think nothing of spending painstaking hours assembling the perfectly noxious mix tape drawn entirely from tracks from the Grindcrusher, Come Again II, and No New York comps. Come to think of it, if he’d taken a step further and spliced that resulting tape into inch-long segments, then reassembled it from bits drawn out of a hat, the result might sound something like this.
Tons of guest stars (Weasel Walter, Blowfly, Steve Mackay, Panicsville’s Andrew Ortmann) appear for mere seconds. Hagstrom’s record-collector dorkdom is hidden in plain sight via the hilariously puerile titles of the track that constitute the 11 “suites” on the record, each themed around a particular subgenre. To wit: “Daisy Marduks,” “How to Destroy Anus,” “Hanatarasha Montana,” “Wake Me Up Before you Guru Guru,” “LaMonte Young & the Restless,” and “Lady Gerogerigagaga,” named for a band that Lady Gaga will probably claim to have been a fan of "way back" when she turns up this review upon Googling her own name.
The last time these guys played Pittsburgh (opening for Frenchie sicko Costes), Hagstrom (clad in a chicken suit) let rip a storm of tinnitus-baiting squalls from some tone-generator doodad while a couple of his cohorts worked over a bank of effects pedals mounted on what looked like a solid-core door across two sawhorses. Bandmate Paige Flash appeared, stalking menacingly through the parting crowd while cracking a whip and shrieking in the faces of unsuspecting and visibly riled chin-strokers. Three minutes in, Cock E.S.P. rushed the audience ECW-style, upsetting their equipment and ending the best performance in Pittsburgh since Anal Cunt’s Seth Putnam hurled a ladder from the stage of Luciano’s Cafe at a group of jeering dirtheads in 1994. Program your CD player to shuffle ten tracks at random and wreck your apartment for a similar effect – minus the flagellation threat.