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Is there such a thing as a "difficult sixth album"? Perhaps there is, but nobody told Bendik Hofseth that. Ever since his critically acclaimed debut album "IX", Hofseth has woven a mercurial path across a broad spectrum of genres, styles, and textures. That restless spirit has led him to compose "Atonement", a suite of songs that explore the themes of displacement and loss. The album is structured in pairings. "Things Fall Apart", the opening track, is initially a plaintive piece in musical terms, but following its lyrical lead, it explores the possibilities that an inevitable dissolution also heralds an inevitable new beginning. The theme of change and transition continues with "Darwin's Timepiece", with it's remarkable lyrical sign-off: "Journeys end when lovers meet / There's a line for you to tweet". The next pairing is more politically charged: "A Stranger's Case" is a meditation on the plight of the refugee, filled with shifting tones and moods, light and shadow; by contrast, "Oh, My Country" places attention on the assumptions and suppositions that inform a sense of identity beyond the self, and finds that a national identity can be a much more fragile thing than a hardened nationalist might contend (as any refugee can attest). The next pairing is an exploration of bereavement and grief. "IOU" is an acknowledgement of the debt owed to those that have passed, the realisation that something positive remains when a loved one has passed, as well as some unresolved hurts. The hurts are explored further in "Shadow Sight", where the pains left by the departed haunt the living. However, in both songs, the theme of ending as beginning remains to cast light on the shadow. "Don't You Hold Me Back" is a song of both warning and self-empowerment, with the warning aimed squarely at those who would act out of jealousy and pettiness, those B-list characters that appear in our lives to make declarations as though they are kings or queens. The pairings are briefly interupted by "Undestroyed", a brief but heavily charged meditation on destruction-for-gain policies, most obviously in environmental terms, but by extension, any scenario where the loss outweighs the profit in real terms and the long term. "Stay" is the natural companion to "Don't You Hold Me Back", and offsets that song's theme of individual empowerment with one of strength through others lovers, family, friends. "We" and "Atonement", the album's concluding pairing, explores relationships in crisis. "We" takes a dialogue format, with Anneli Drecker as the second voice. "Atonement" is a more personal piece, a lone voice acknowledging an ending, while at the same time searching for hope that reconstruction is possible when what is broken beyond repair has been removed. While the album's lyrics explore dissonance of experience, dissolution, grief and loss, and some anger, they remain inherently positive, never succumbing to despair or indifference. This positive aspect is reflected by the unity and coherence of the music, not only within the individual songs, but across the album as a whole. The music provides a framework for a sense of unity and of acceptance, reconciliation. The music itself represents the atonement, the longer lines in our lives where things do add up - eventually. Music easily lives with disagreements and dichotomies, indeed these qualities are the very building blocks of musical propulsion and drama.


  1. Name
  2. Things Fall Apart
  3. Darwin's Timepiece
  4. A Stranger's Case
  5. Oh, My Country
  6. IOU
  7. Shadow Sight
  8. Don't You Hold Me Back
  9. Undestroyed
  10. Stay
  11. We
  12. Atonement
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