The Bury five-piece has scooped the trophy – awarded for the best-sounding dynamic mix of 2010/11 – for its critically-acclaimed fifth studio album, Build A Rocket Boys!.
The announcement of the award provided a climax to a full 24 hours of online activity designed to raise awareness of excessive loudness and the effect that it is having on the sound of recorded music.
Released at the beginning of March, Build A Rocket Boys! – Elbow’s first studio release since 2008’s Mercury Prize-winning The Seldom Seen Kid – was, like its predecessor, produced and mixed by the band’s keyboardist, Craig Potter.
A strong list of nominees also included Laura Marling’s I Speak Because I Can, LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening, The Coral’s Butterfly House, Massive Attack’s Heligoland, Neil Young’s Le Noise, Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More, Four Tet’s There Is Love In You, and Norah Jones’s …Featuring.
Dynamic Range Day organiser Ian Shepherd, from UK company Mastering Media, comments: “Elbow have chosen to ignore the Loudness War ‘fairy stories’ and keep fantastic dynamic range in their music – it’s full of light and shade, of drama and build – and that’s a smart choice, because it gives their music more impact and power as a result.
“There's this fear in the music industry at the moment that things won’t sell unless there’s a very high level on the CD – but it’s madness, because at the end of the day, everyone has a volume control and sets it as they like.
“Online and radio playback is all evened out too, so it’s tragic that music is being mangled for no good reason.
“The Award gives us a chance to shine the spotlight on music which has the courage to be dynamic, and is still successful and popular. We hope many other acts will realise this and follow Elbow’s example.”
Accepting the award on behalf of the band, Craig Potter remarked: “It’s beyond me why anyone would want to squash their albums the way they do – it’s ruining all the hard work that goes into it. I think that dynamics are such an important thing for emotion in music.” (Potter’s acceptance video can be found here http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk/award.)
Tens of thousands of people supported Dynamic Range Day online this year via Facebook, Twitter and blog posts, with many of them entering a competition sponsored by companies including Solid State Logic, Bowers & Wilkins and Shure.
While DRD11 may have come and gone, the Dynamic Range Day Challenge – which invites participants to keep at least 8dB dynamic range in their next recording, mix and master – is ongoing. For more information, visit www.DynamicRangeDay.com.