Ancient Mechanisms, L.V.'s first album on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings, finds the South London duo branching out a bit from the garage/dubstep scene that spawned them. Virtuosic Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan is featured on five of the album's 14 cuts, but his influence is felt on the rest of the songs, which have a much more delicate, nuanced feel to them. Tracks like "Dar Souiri" feature moments of quiet, pretty piano introspection balanced with steady beats that aren't concerned with filling a dancefloor. The more beat-driven tracks, such as "Hammer and Roses," have a jazzy feel in line with the broken beat scene, making Brownswood a fitting label for the album rather than L.V.'s previous homes Keysound and Hyperdub. The album's title is fitting, as there's much more of a hand-cranked quality to this album than might be expected from the group; the sounds of the instruments themselves are often audible, along with field recordings and other incidental sounds. More ambitious, developed compositions such as "Yarimo" and "Ruiselede" are juxtaposed with shorter pieces such as "Broken Movement" and "Gravity Escapement," which still contain gorgeous melodies and intriguing instruments, and could have easily been expanded into full songs. Ancient Mechanisms is certainly a bit of a left-field turn for L.V., but it finds them comfortably, enthusiastically embracing new territory while keeping in line with the creative spirit that drove previous albums such as Routes and Sebenza.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson