Vivid writing about music

To start, a tiny piano run from some histrionic Swingbeat rubbish. She had stripped it down so severely that she had dehumanized it. This was something different from her usual approach. The piano, the instrument that so often ruined Jungle, making her think of Happy House and idiotic Ibiza clubs, here turned into an instrument that signalled the destruction of anything human in this world. Deeply plaintive and melancholy, but ghostly. The piano tried to remember melancholia, and presented it as if for approval. Is this is? Is this sadness? it asked. I can't recall. And under the piano she faded in, for a fraction of a second, subliminal, she laid down a sample of radio sattic.

She had sought it for a long time, recording great swathes of sound from all the bands on her radio, rejecting them all, until she found and seized and created exactly what she wanted. And here she hinted at it.

The beat kicked in after the piano went around and came around several times, each time separated by a severe gap, a rupture in the music. And the beat was all snares at first, fast and dreamy, and a sound like a choir welled up and then resolved itself into electronic orchestration, fabricated emotion, a failed search for feeling.

And then the bassline.

A minimal program, a single thud, pause, another thud, pause, another, longer pause... double thud and back to the beginning. And underneath it all she began to make those snatches of radio static a little longer, and longer still, and looping them more and more randomly, until it was a constant, shifting refrain under the beat. A chunk of interference that sounded like someone trying to break out of white noise. She was proud of that static, had created it by finding a station on shortwave and then just missing it, so that the peaks and troughs of the crackling could have been voices, eager to make contact, and failing ...or they could have just been static.

The radio existed to communicate. But here it was failing, it had gone rogue, it had forgotten its purpose like the piano, and the people could not reclaim the city.

Because it was a city Natasha saw as she listened. She sped through the air at huge speed between vast crumbling buildings, everything gray, towering and enormous and flattened, variegated and empty, unclaimed. And Natasha painted this picture carefully, took a long time creating it, dropping a hundred hints of humanity into the track, hints that could not deliver, dead ends, disappointments.

And when she had sucked her listener in to the city, all alone, Natasha brought on the Wind.

A sudden burst of flute mimicking the almost-speaking of the static, a trick she had pilfered from a Steve Reich album --God knew where she had heard that-- where he made violins mimic human voices. the static rolled on and the beat rolled on and the soulless piano rolled on and as the static rose and fell he flute would shudder into existence behind it for a moment, a shrill echo, and then it would disappear. Gusts of Wind sweeping rubbish off the streets. Then again. More and more often, until two gusts of flute would appear, overlaying each other. Another and another would join in, a cacaphony of simultaneous forces of nature, half-musical, half-feral, artificial, commentary, an intruder in the city that shaped it contemptuously, sculpted it. A long low wail of flute piped up from behind, gusting through everything, the only constant, dwarfing the effect of the other sounds, intimidating, humbling. The peaks and troughs in the static go, they are blown flat by the flute. The piano goes, each trill of notes reducing by one until it is just a single note like a slow metronome passing time. Then that, too, disappears. The intricacies of flute are superseded and only the great single wind remains. Flute, white noise, snares and bassline, stretching off for a long time, an unbroken architecture of deserted beats.

(China Miéville, King Rat, pp 208-210)