LUX: The Grammy-nominated Immersive Audio Album produced by Morten Lindberg

An analysis of the album from Anita Brevik, Trondheimsolistene & Nidarosdomens Jentekor.
By Ben Jacklin

Morten Lindberg is something of a legendary figure in the Grammy Awards. He has 28 nominations without a win, and has been nominated in at least one category every year since 2008. A Grammy Award ceremony doesn’t feel right without a Morten Lindberg nomination!

Released on the 2L recording label based in Norway, this is the third release from Lindberg this year.  Ljos and Ujamaa preceded LUX to create a trio of varied and diverse recordings. Ujamaa has big orchestral layers and folk influences from all over the wold. Ljos is a focus on human choirs and vocal layering.

LUX has a combination of both of the above concepts, as Anita Brevik conducts an orchestra that threatens to bubble over into the absurd, but always keeps its bounds just within the avant-garde space. The complexities of the composition are skillfully kept in control, as the SACD format showcases the incredible musicianship involved in the recording.

The trio of LUX, Ljos and Ujamaa is only a trio due to the conceptual similarities and the fact that they were released in close succession. 2L actually explain that “LUX is the conceptual sequel to MAGNIFICAT [nominated Best Surround Sound Album at the 58th GRAMMY Awards].”

Though Lindberg has nominations in other categories such as Best Engineered Album – Classical, he is a true veteran of the Immersive Audio category. In fact, he’s something of a pioneer when it comes to experimental classical music constructed in a stunning surround sound environment.

The musicianship and instrumentation are just one of the many ways Lindberg pushes the boundaries. Trygve Seim plays sax with an incredible freedom and looseness that takes us on astral and sonic journeys before bringing us back to earth as the choral voices take over. Stale Storlokken plays pipe organ, and this adds a further texture that interweaves with the choir for an intimate listening experience.

Lindberg’s mastery when it comes to mixing immersive audio is evident throughout. The string layers creep and approach from all angles, at times giving an eerie feel, haunting among the backdrop of the female choir, before resolving in moments of clarity. Lindberg’s mixing gives a filmic feel, as the composition is brought to life in the room. The recording was made in the Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway, and the cathedral feel and acoustics are magically captured in the 3D mix.

Lindberg is prolific, and a master of his craft. An eye-opening series of videos filmed by Sennheiser display many of his techniques, and the dedication he has to the immersive audio experience. He, along with the 2L label, will go down in history as driving the format forward. The high output is impressive, but somehow the quality never seems to suffer. We don’t expect to come across a Grammy nominee list without Lindberg in it any time soon. Can this finally be the year he can describe himself as “Winner” rather than “Nominee”? The lush layers of LUX mean nobody could complain if he is finally awarded the accolade.

About the Author

Ben is a writer and musician from the UK with a background in music technology. He writes about engineering and production, musicianship and music equipment for a number of publications including his own site, subreel.com