A1. Manhattan Skyline 4:27
A2. Mysteries Of The World 5:27
A3. Tell Me Why 3:57
A4. Metamorphosis 5:16
B1. Fortune Teller 6:08
B2. Old San Juan 4:27
B3. Thank You Miss Scott 4:14
B4. In The Shadow 3:37
Mysteries Of The World is the stunning final studio album from legendary Philly supergroup MFSB. Expertly co-written and produced with the mighty Dexter Wansel, it features the untouchable, sparkling masterpiece "Mysteries Of The World". The whole album is truly exquisite; a stylish, classy collection of pure Philly soul and orchestral jazz-funk.
MFSB, an acronym for Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, was formed by producers Gamble & Huff of Philadelphia International Records. The band's roots can be traced back to the house band at the legendary Sigma Sound Studios, where they played on numerous hit records by artists like The O'Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and The Stylistics. Mysteries Of The World comprises slick jazz-funk grooves, mostly penned by Wansel, who produced a fair chunk of the album in a similar style to his space-funk records. MFSB's smooth sound is retained but it receives a fresh, elegant and jazzy upgrade. While this album is as mellow as the rest of the latter-period MFSB recordings, it never forgets the group's soul music underpinnings.
Swaggering, well-timed horn blasts, sweeping strings and a percolating, hard thumping slap-bassline combine to devastating effect on amazing opener "Manhattan Skyline". It's a sexy mid-tempo instrumental which sets us up nicely for what follows. Essays could be written analysing the perfection of title track. Arguably the finest jazz-funk instrumental ever made, it's absolutely magnificent. Featuring musicianship of the highest calibre, the band play with their trademark tight discipline, cooking up a syncopating rhythm with an array of exploratory keyboard riffs wrapped around a punchy bassline sent from heaven. It sounds like house music, it's that ahead of its time. The string intro is sumptuous, hypnotic and divine and that's all before the beat hits. The track fuses classical, jazz and funk into a musical journey that you never want to end. Absolutely flawless, it's a dramatic disco dancefloor killer.
Says Dexter Wansel himself: "You know, of all the songs I wrote/produced/arranged for MFSB, this is for me the most different. I think it's an experiment in rhythmic, soft sonic synth and live string and harp combinations. I composed it in an effort to blend a funky groove, along with synthesis, and orchestral sounds. There are 3 synthesizers: Oberheim 4 voice, Polymoog, and of course Arp 2600v. And, as I remember, I recorded the track with the rhythm section, string, harp and flute players first. Then I added synthesis."
The profound elegance remains in abundance on the slinky, harp-laced "Tell Me Why"; Carla Benson's beautiful voice truly shines on this sophisticated cut. The side closes out in dramatic style with the string-drenched "Metamorphosis". It's a staccato, Blaxploitation groove workout featuring wah-wah guitar, creeping basslines, rich horn solos and soulful vocals drifting in and out of the mix. The bouncy, irrepressible "Fortune Teller" opens the B side in the bass-heavy orchestral funk style before the beautiful "Old San Juan" glides in, a Balearic-adjacent track with intricate arrangements, building its mellow soul groove around an atypical flamenco guitar hook. Melancholy, guitar-led instrumental "Thank You Miss Scott" is a real highlight, with gorgeous flute, string and percussive elements whilst closer "In the Shadow" works an otherworldly synth line into its bossa nova groove.
An essential record for fans of Philly soul and groovy jazz-funk, Mysteries Of The World was mastered for vinyl by Simon Francis and cut by Cicely Ralston for Alchemy at AIR Studios. The stunning artwork, the work of renowned illustrator Robert Giusti, was restored at Be With HQ to round out this beautiful reissue.