In his lauded career as a sound engineer, the Oslo-based producer Morten Lindberg has overseen dozens of immersive sound recordings, many in the classical realm.
His acclaimed record label, 2L, describes itself as a purveyor of “the Nordic sound.” He records his projects with a sophisticated system designed to capture sound as if in three dimensions — to envelop a room like listeners are awash in sound waves.
Lindberg also holds a somewhat dubious Grammy Award distinction. After being passed over Sunday in two engineering categories, his career win-to-loss ratio is a devastating 0-26. Not once since his first surprise nod in 2006 has the Norwegian ferried a trophy home with him. More impressive, 2L’s overall record, which includes Lindberg’s nominations, is now 0-34.
On Sunday, Lindberg was nominated in the immersive audio category for the contemporary classical song cycle “Sommerro: Ujamaa & the Iceberg,” and for the Norwegian folk album “Folketoner.” He lost to Alan Parsons, Dave Donnelly and P.J. Olsson, for their “Eye In The Sky - 35th Anniversary Edition.”
Since his first nomination, Lindberg has been up for a total of 25 Grammys across 11 straight years. Last year was rough: He earned four nods — and lost four times.
“We’ve had years where I’ve had three of the five nominations in a category,” Lindberg said matter-of-factly last week over the phone from Oslo about his experience with Grammys. He said he was “too busy” to come this year. He’s made the trip every few years, and always returned empty-handed.
To fully appreciate Lindberg’s work, and all “immersive audio” recordings, requires a pretty sophisticated setup. Eligible recordings must be commercially available on formats including DVD-Audio, Blu-ray or SACD. From a practical perspective, to be fully enveloped in music calls for a surround-sound system. Headphones hardly convey the same sensation, and technology has advanced to the point where sound can be directed high, low, left, right and in-between.
In fact, this was the first year for the Best Immersive Audio category, which for reasons too boring to go into here replaced the Surround Sound category responsible for so many of Lindberg’s defeats. Whether this affected the outcome isn’t known.
Still, in Norway there’s been talk. People have had questions about potential anti-European biases. “They say, ‘Oh, this is because this is an American award, and you’re European, so it’s to keep us at arm’s length,’” Lindberg said. “But, honestly, I don’t feel that way at all.”
Asked if he’d be relieved to finally have his work validated with a Grammy Award, Lindberg replied unequivocally: “No, no -- the opposite. Getting an award now would actually ruin my record — my track record would be completely blown away.”