Review: Christian Mirande – My Friend Went to Heaven on the Frankford El (Anathema Archive, Jan 3)

Christian Mirande is one of those few musicians whose releases I buy without hesitation. The Philadelphia-based sound artist can always be relied upon to produce wonderfully difficult music with distinct and unmistakable emotional resonance; see the simultaneous domesticity and seismic rumble of Trying to Remember a House, the criminally underappreciated sprawling sonic odyssey Scaled Deposits, or even the minuscule field recording collages of Strangeways if you need proof. It’s immediately apparent that his newest work, My Friend Went to Heaven on the Frankford El, is a very personal outing for Mirande; the title, along with the tape’s dedication to “Jason & Sean” and a link providing instructions for administering Naloxone, immediately evokes a profound sense of loss. But My Friend Went to Heaven is not cheaply elegiac, never tugging on low-hanging heart strings with monologues about grief or other clichés. Instead, Mirande bases what may be his most elusive release yet around the strange milieu of American life during a rampant opioid epidemic. There are no warnings, no time to say goodbye; your friends and family are simply there one day and gone the next, and the surrounding world is heartbreakingly apathetic to your grief—trains rattle by with countless passengers all oblivious to what you’ve lost, conversations carry on without you, classic pop anthems are snatched away by the same uncaring, unceremonious hands that yank so many lives from their human vessels. The world of My Friend Went to Heaven on the Frankford El is one that is at once familiar and distorted, an unyielding constant viewed from the fragile perspective of a single consciousness.