The idea of a bass-centric supergroup is a tricky thing. For some, it was a laughable proposition and many critics rolled their eyes before they even heard a note of their music. For others, it might be a dream come true – especially considering the pedigree of those involved.
As the story goes, the idea for the band came during a night of heavy drinking between bassists Peter Hook (New Order, Joy Division) and Gary ‘Mani’ Mounfield (Primal Scream, The Stone Roses) back in 2004, as a reaction to the fact that both of their other bands were inactive. They were soon joined by Andy Rourke (The Smiths) to round out the triple bass sound.
I’ll admit that I was one of the skeptics when I first heard about Freebass. I just wasn’t convinced that they could make it work. But like most others, I was still interested in seeing what Peter Hook would do in his first band since leaving New Order in 2007. The result of years of waiting is at the same time about what was expected and not what was expected at all. After an inconsequential intro track, the first two real songs on Two Worlds Collide seem to shift influences between all of those involved. “You Don’t Know (This About Me)” (featuring Charlatans singer Tim Burgess) starts out sounding like, well, a latter day New Order song. By the end of the slow build that leads to an abrupt end, it’s flowed seamlessly into Primal Scream territory.
As the first song fades right into the next, “The Milky Way is our Playground”, it switches stylistically again into sounding like Muni’s other band – the Stone Roses. The midtempo rocker aspires to soar as high as its title inspiration, and towards the end it really takes off. Pete Wylie does a commendable job taking lead vocals on the song, but it’s really a showcase for the musicians in the last minute of the song. The explosive end gives way to a stange, spoken word monologue by notorious drug smuggler Howard Marks that lasts the entirety of the seven minute “Dark Starr”. The song starts and ends with just Marks’ voice, but there’s a decent song to be had somewhere in the middle.
The somber last few words of “Dark Starr” leave you no time to think before the blast of electronic sound that kick-starts “Live Tomorrow You Go Down”, featuring Peter Hook on lead vocals. Sounding like New Order on crack, the song’s fast pace doesn’t let up through its full five minutes of electo pulses and drum beats. The album ends with the short closer “Thats Life”, which is nothing more than a robotic voice mumbling over some creepy ambient noises for just over a minute.
While Two Worlds Collide does include some strange, out-of-nowhere moments – fans of New Order or any of the bands involved should at least check it out. It’s not much more than a decent distraction, but considering the low expectations of most critics, it’s somewhat of a pleasant surprise.