CD, Synesthesia Recordings, 2009
Matteo Milani and Federico Placidi, the creative force behind the “Unidentified Sound Object” project, tend to over think matters. “InharmoniCity”, their first collaborative release, is a highly intellectual, hugely experimental selection of anti-music, presented in three parts (“Girl Running”, “Invisible Words” and “…from the Past…out of the Future…”). Taken as a merely musical experience, the result is something of a letdown: the non-linear approach to their music (which should be defined as sound generation rather than composition in the strictest sense) is distant and difficult to relate to, in spite of it being constructed in large part from urban field recordings. The accompanying video, supplied by Selfish (aka Giovanni Antignano), does add a narrative aspect to the proceedings, but even his minimalist filmmaking skill, while perfectly suited to USO’s bleak sound, does not engage the attention the way one would hope.
Overall, so little is happening throughout the hour-long album that it becomes far too easy to get distracted, or even lose interest: the occasional unexpected snarl of static does little to improve matters. “InharmoniCity” is, in essence, an exercise in slowly building layers of texture without ever actually reaching a climactic point. What is impressive is that almost everything you hear is synthetic, or has been manipulated electronically; there is not a whisper of traditional instrumentation as the musical world knows it to be had.
It’s only when you consider the philosophical nature of what USO is doing that you can really appreciate the mental processes behind “InharmoniCity”. Unfortunately, terminology like “aggregate textures” and “dynamic redistribution” tend to create visual associations of stuffy, library-bound academia – a concept entirely out of place within the realm of the creative arts, both aural and visual. This theoretical, mathematical way in which the duo develop their musical experiments may be extremely clever, but it is their act of practically negating the human aspect that makes music the emotionally stirring experience it is.
So for technicality, “InharmoniCity” is quite the achievement, and USO richly deserves any and all accolades they receive in this category. As far as simple listening pleasure goes, however, they fail miserably. This lack of accessibility to the public at large makes “InharmoniCity” an entirely personal achievement, and one that will probably never receive the attention USO’s far-reaching, progressive vision could.
— David vander Merwe