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DISCOVERY ZONE

Discovery Zone

Quantum Web

    Quantum Web is the new album from Discovery Zone, the experimental pop project of New York born, Berlin based musician and multi-media artist JJ Weihl. After the slow-building but undeniable fervor around Remote Control, Discovery Zone’s debut album, Quantum Web quite literally picks up where JJ left off. In what she considers an ongoing, process oriented continuum, Quantum Web is the next evolutionary phase of Discovery Zone– arranging the past, present, and future across the infinite, invisible web that interconnects us all.

    Moving to Berlin from her native New York City in the early 2010s, the songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist developed her musical practice over four albums as a member of the beloved art rock band Fenster before introducing Discovery Zone with Remote Control in 2020. JJ named Discovery Zone after the chain of indoor, youth oriented entertainment facilities filled with mazes and climbing structures that shuttered shortly after the turn of the millennium — a space born of commercialism that she describes as a “glorified cage” which nonetheless offered her, and millions of other children, the freedom to explore. The music of Discovery Zone plays with a perception of inevitable corporate societal control, but finds its own power and liberation in sounds that obscure their institutional sources.

    Inspired by the omnipresence of advertising and corporate culture as much as the potential of cybernetics and neural networks, Discovery Zone plunges into an uncanny valley with Quantum Web, where the distinctions between the earnest and the ironic blur in tandem with the border between the human and the post-human. JJ wrote a number of Quantum Web’s songs for Cybernetica, a multimedia performance she was commissioned in 2021. Cataloging her daily activities as data points to be analyzed, she broke her life down into statistics and presented them onstage to a live audience, depersonalizing her experience while claiming it for herself in all its mundane yet intimate detail. Quantum Web casts JJ in a concordant role: a pop star mediated by machines, just as willing to sink anonymously into her productions as she is to shine as their legible central figure.

    On Quantum Web, Discovery Zone explores a widescreen pop sound speckled with luminous vocal performances and baroque instrumental flourishes. While JJ’s voice is focal and transfixing at the center of the composition, she contrasts moments of clarity with strategies of obfuscation through hi-definition synthesis and time-dilating ambience. Vocoded textures layer into dense choral networks. A.I. text-to-speech abruptly hits the mix like a loudspeaker announcement over a meditation session. Staccato samples of JJ’s disembodied voice pepper the arrangements, creating their own pointillist harmonic systems that play a role closer to synth patch than vocal take. Quantum Web draws power from this composite mosaic of inputs, as if to propose that all these forms still represent JJ’s core self no matter how far they might splinter from the sounds that came from her physical form.

    Though delivered in the crisp fidelity of contemporary radio-ready pop, the production signifiers we encounter on Quantum Web seem more like they should reach us bearing the grain and warble of a VHS tape. Working with producer E.T., JJ dips into a pool of decades-spanning style, finding room for 80s sophisti-pop, modern hyper-digital bubblegum, and early electro. Flights of motorik momentum animate more bustling compositions while shades of downtempo and city pop dim the lights over more subdued moments. An otherwise electronic arrangement might suddenly host a crystalline guitar riff or a bumping electric bassline, calling back to JJ’s musical upbringing playing guitar and bass as a teen on through her decade spent in a more traditional “rock band” setting. Interspersed among the pieces of Quantum Web that code as some permutation of electronic pop songwriting, a series of minute-long interludes turns the dial toward lush textural sculpting and pure ambient drift — regularly scheduled programming punctuated by commercial breaks.

    The Quantum Web is our web of personal connections, the world wide web, the web of lies we tell each other. It’s a trap, a figurative hologram that we see all around us, but one we participate in of our own free will. We acknowledge that to escape would be impossible. But we still find a simple joy, or at least the thrill of confronting prosaic ineffability, when we log back on, when we play a trivia game on a little screen attached to the backseat of a cab, when we walk through the mall and look up through the infinite ceiling or the sky.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Supernatural
    A2. Pair A Dice
    A3. Ur Eyes
    A4. FYI
    A5. Test
    B1. Operating System
    B2. Mall Of Luv
    B3. Kite
    B4. All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go
    B5. Undressed
    B6. Keep It Lite
    B7. Xrystal


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