Styrmir & the Medical Faculty – “What Am I Doing With My Life?” (2019)

styrmirmedicalThere are a wide range of words and terms that Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson uses to describe the project that is Styrmir & the Medical Faculty.  Stand-up comedy.  Hip hop.  An opera.  A criticism of the arrogance of Western medicine.  When you combine all those things there’s a lot to unpack.  And when you add the visual component of the full-sized booklet of drawings, one for each song, attached inside the gatefold of the vinyl version of What Am I Doing With My Life?, you’ve got a compelling package designed to take your brain out of its comfort zone and mix things up a bit.  There are references to Hitler and samurai swords and E=mc².  There are beats.  There are experimental tracks.  We’re dealing with a lot of stuff here.

The Medical Faculty are a large and diverse group.  There are a half dozen people who take on lead vocals across the album’s 14 track, and most of the folks contributing don’t appear to be involved with many other music projects, at least not as near as I can tell from looking at Discogs.  The two exceptions are Bergur Thomas Anderson, who is associated with Sudden Weather Change, Grísalappalísa, and Oyama, and of course the ubiquitous producer Curver, who has probably worked on more Icelandic albums that anyone who has ever lived.  Despite the broad range of contributors the whole thing holds together, all of it orbiting around the concepts and frequent vocals of Styrmir.

Recommended tracks include “The Liking Vortex” and “Most of the Cosmos is Compost”, a pair of stylistically disparate songs that provide a good general flavor of the album as a whole.  The former is a bit on the experimental side, while the latter is the most traditionally hip hop effort (with an honorable mention to “Göngutúr”) on the record.  You can check them out, as well as the rest of What Am I Doing With My Life?, on Bandcamp HERE, and you can purchase it on vinyl there as well.  My copy notes that it is from the first edition of 700 copies, and I presume that’s still the edition that is being sold