Gatekeeper’s Optimus Maximus was a limited release of synth-tech that was both directed towards and influenced by the scores of John Carpenter films (and a few others). Its dramatic sounds were enhanced by a heavy swathe of reverb, arpeggiated minor chord synth lines and a strong backbone of techno beats. However, the main criticism of this was that the title track heavily sampled influential synth artist Synergy and his track ‘Trellis’. In fact it was a little too borrowed and really resulted in some proto-industrial drums played linearly amongst the sounds of ‘Trellis’; it just wasn’t inventive enough for some.
Musically, within Giza there are touches of Cold Cave, The Hasbeens, and a gloomy Kraftwerk, but essentially Gatekeeper are now following their own path. The first track ‘Chains’ is a crazily morbid and addictive listening experience. It is a combination of 80s tech noir and sleazy EBM/industrial: it sounds like it could be the pervy step-father to the theme of 80s crime show The Equalizer.
If only the other tracks were oozing as much menace as this. Apart from ‘Giza’ the rest seem to be more filler than thriller, and although it does break the EP up into two neat halves it just doesn’t keep the pulsating momentum throughout. Both ‘Serpent’ and ‘Mirage’ are disorientating, with a mix of percussive noise and almost Gregorio chanting being loosely pinned down with relatively quiet beats.
Overall Gatekeeper seem to have more of a grasp of what they want to achieve, and this is furthered with he help of fellow Chicago audio-visual crew Thunder Horse to create a series of videos (also released as VHS tapes!) that will coincide with the release. Dan McPharlin (who did the artwork for The Sword’s recent Warp Riders) wonderfully captures this retro-futurist feel to the EP for the artwork.