I first read of The Muggabear’s new EP as a reinvention. In essence, it isn’t the subtraction of old patterns for something new so much as an addition of weight and noise; Night Choreography often features two layers of front man Travis Johnson’s guitar parts, as well as crisper vocal tracks, often double-tracked and harmonized. These two Travises (Travi?) are still the product of a studied passion for all things Sonic Youth (except maybe Rather Ripped, an album he obviously hates) and the ongoing effort to sound less like Stephen Malkmus. Regardless of why one would want to eschew such fertile indie territory, the EP’s extra layers drown the new tracks more deeply in the down tempo nocturnal anthems that featured on Teenage Cop, their previous EP. Whether it was their intention or not, this dive into the same familiarly dark lit musical territory results in a greatly enriched and expansive collection.
Some of the structural additions do depart noticeably from their previous reference points. There’s the crunchy blues driven riff (no less plaintive than other Muggabear guitar hooks) on “Dead Kid Kicks” and the up-pitched farfisa on “Automatic Others”. In a recent interview, to be posted on the site next week, Johnson alluded to the increasingly cut up nature of their songwriting process, which accommodates the fragmented nature of his compositional process. If these tracks are an indication, the method allows for these small bits of brilliance to lock a jagged chain that’s never rigid, or constrained, and could ostensibly stretch on for a good many more albums. Let’s hope.