Once upon a time, cars limited their audio outputs to engine noise alone. As more and more gadgets crept into auto interiors, drivers were bombarded with an array of doleful bings, bongs, beeps, and clicks, all warning of this, that and the other.
As the mechanical bits have become quieter, the chorus of digital chirruping has grown louder, encouraging manufacturers to work with dedicated audio designers to shape the driving experience.
Bentley has gone one step further and commissioned itself its very own 9-minute musical piece. The occasion? A celebration of 14 years of working with Naim, the British audio brand, on the in-car audio systems across its line-up of luxury high-performance GTs, saloons, and SUVs. The composer in question is Steve Mazzaro, an LA-based musician with a number of impressive soundtrack credits.
Mazzaro’s piece, 'The Extraordinary Journey', is a musical travelogue that encompasses different moods, styles, and a wide range of instrumentation. Created specifically to showcase the massive Naim system in the Bentley Flying Spur – with 2,200 watts, 19 speakers and two kinaesthetic shakers to make the front seats rumble, the 9-minute track was written and produced by Mazzaro at his studio in California, with a number of world-class musicians performing remotely.
Mazzaro’s soundtrack career in Hollywood culminated in a position at Hans Zimmer’s legendary Remote Control Productions in Santa Monica. The Oscar-winning composer entrusted Mazzaro to collaborate on the scores for Dune, Dunkirk, and Interstellar, as well as receive title-credits for his work on No Time To Die and Army of Thieves, amongst many others.
Adept at scoring on a grand scale, Mazzaro’s piece for Bentley is divided into three movements. ‘I wanted to take the listener on a journey, with the essence of a film to be in a listener’s subconscious mind, so there’s flow to this piece - starting a specific way and then leading the person somewhere,’ the composer explains.
Around 40% of Bentley customers opt for the high-end Naim system. As one of the most powerful audio experiences in any car, the 19-speaker set-up includes four bass drivers, a sub-woofer, and four ‘super tweeters’.
Audio controls are part of the Flying Spur’s 12.3-inch HD touchscreen interface, and you can tailor the sound to your precise requirements with Naim’s Digital Signal Processing (DSP) system. Compatible with all the major streaming services, the Flying Spur’s Naim system brings a new dimension to music, podcasts, and more.
For Mazzaro, the system is like another instrument. ‘The Extraordinary Journey’ makes full use of Naim’s potential. ‘For the opening, I wanted everything to be done with smaller instruments, but be powerful, organic and kinetic,’ the composer says, ‘I then introduce this big, cinematic orchestra, before ending with an orchestral, electronic, explosive culmination.
'I really wanted to push the power of the Naim audio system and see what it was capable of, so this also became more of a technical endeavour. There are so many speakers, I wanted to try lots of panning effects, bouncing the sound from left to right. This is a score for the driver’s seat.’
The piece is in three movements and uses a wide range of instrumentation, from flamenco guitar through to orchestral strings, ethnic percussion, contemporary electronica. ‘To me, Bentley represents elegance and class but also power, speed and mechanical complexity. So for this piece I used guitars, plus powerful, heavy low synths and very technical drums combined with intricate hand percussion. As with the workings of a car, you don’t see them, but you know they’re there, working in the background,’ says Mazzaro. Guest musicians include the Chinese-born American cellist Tina Gao, violinist Molly Rogers, percussionists Satnam Ramgotra and Holly Madge, and the German-Spanish flamenco guitarist John Haddad.
The Extraordinary Journey can be experienced at Bentley dealerships or on Bentley Motor’s Soundcloud page.
This article is part of The T3 Edit, a collaboration between T3 and Wallpaper* which explores the very best blends of design, craft, and technology. Wallpaper* magazine is the world’s leading authority on contemporary design and The T3 Edit is your essential guide to what’s new and what’s next.