Certainly the first thing one notices about this first release in Glacial Movements' so-called ‘Iceberg Series' is the packaging design by Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek): no expense has been spared in housing its CD within a firm, extra-wide digipack that includes on its outer covers an embossed iceberg and glossy spot varnishing. And that such a deluxe presentation has been given to a Netherworld release can't be attributed solely to the fact that Alessandro Tedeschi (aka Netherworld) owns and operates the Italy-based Glacial Movements imprint when the other projected releases in the series are scheduled to be presented in similar manner.
On musical grounds, it's a rather curious release in that it's pitched as “the first techno glacial album by Netherworld.” Techno here needs to be interpreted loosely, as Zastrugi is most definitely not a techno album, though techno-like 4/4 pulses do surface throughout the album. No one, in other words, should expect to hear any one of its five tracks booming forth from a festival stage during the peak moments of a DJ's set; some of its material could, on the other hand, very reasonably be heard before the set begins and in the chillout room outside the primary club space.
An iceberg is, of course, a huge ice mass, the greater portion of which is hidden beneath the water surface; consistent with that, the goal of the series is to evoke in musical form this immense ice mass. Text on the release's inner sleeve clarifies that the title term refers to “a wind-eroded, hard-packed snow surface with irregular grooves and sharp ridges that is mostly found in the earth's polar regions as well as on high mountains subject to high winds.” The track titles similarly allude to iceberg-related phenomena: “Mapsuk” refers to an overhanging shape caused by wind erosion, “Bergie Seltzer” is the term used to describe the sound produced when an iceberg melts, and “Uikka” is the name given to an evil spirit in Inuit mythology who grounds boats between ice blocks.Granular noise, sonar blips, industrial clanks, speaking voices, convulsions, rumblings, and frozen strings surface in Tedeschi's five settings, which extend from ten to thirteen minutes. When its kick drums keep up a constant pulse amidst layers of cloudy detail, “Mapsuk” begins to sound very much like one of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas productions. Seething, bone-chilling winds blow across the barren surfaces of “Bergie Seltzer” though not so powerfully that the muffled boom-boom pounding at its center is obliterated. Animated by a lumbering, indomitable pulse, “Sérac” meets the series goal in conjuring the image of a massive entity, while “Uikka” is light years removed from peaceful ambient territory when it includes thunderous tribal drumming. Though Zastrugi does add a new dimension to the Netherworld soundworld, the recording with its techno element stripped out wouldn't sound all that much different from the kind typically heard on Glacial Movements: deeply textured electronic soundsculptings of a powerfully evocative character.