For a country with a population less than most major cities, Iceland frequently punches above its weight in music circles. In the 90s when the first wave of techno was taking hold worldwide, the sound had reached all of Europe’s outposts and Iceland was proving a fertile ground for new ideas in the genre. Working prolifically under a dizzying amount of alias, with the most famous of them being Sanasol, Oz Artists and Thor, Thorhallur Skulason was dubbed the Godfather of Icelandic techno.
As a young producer he scored his first release, Awakening the Gods during the golden era of Sven Vath’s Harthouse Records in 1995, quickly following this up with Live In Reykjavik on the German imprint soon after. Later that year Thor initiated his own agenda setting Thule Records, which would be home to fellow Icelandic luminaries Exos, Ozy, Yagya (with Thor as Sanasol). A purple patch of production in the late 90s saw the Icelandic producer further release on Electrolux, Yoshitoshi and Planet Vision. Eschewing promotion through the traditional channels, Thor remained a mystery to many, preferring to let the quality of his productions do the talking, a tactic that veiled each release with a unique sense of purity that those in the know lapped up.
Like many of his generation he moved on from the music scene as techno began to become harder and loopier in the early 00s but his tracks remained staples for the likes of Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos, with the taste making DJs dipping into genre spanning range of productions credited to Thor, from his tougher releases to the tight, grooving and sexy sound that fits so well with today’s dance floors.
The temptation to return to music became too much for Thor, with recognition coming once more after a much-anticipated reappearance with Icelandic Lost Tracks Volumes 1 & 2 on German label Connoisseur in 2010. Around 2014 musical cycles had realigned so that Thor’s slick, dubby take on house and techno was again at the forefront of techno’s relentless march. A reissue set from Berlin’s highly respected Sushitech followed, compiling Thor’s most celebrated monikers for the first time. Consequences brought together stark techno tracks such as Aliens Don’t Boogie and the fluid, housey leanings of Oz Artists’ As If The Living Were Moving for a new generation of clued up techno lovers. Simultaneously in Iceland the producer was readying his own Thule label for a run of retrospective releases including the much sought after The Normal Spot by Sanasol and Richie Hawtin’s secret weapon T1/T2.
All this has made Thor a must check artist for the finest DJs and label owners around. Appearances on Radio Slave’s freshly minted The Double R and receiving the remix treatment from Mr G and Delano Smith have further welcomed Thor into the minds of record buyers and dancers around the world. Shows at Panorama Bar, Berlin, Fuse, Brussels, Rex, Paris have followed as well as tours of the US, with regular stops at New York’s notorious Resolute party.
With his best work now available and being heard on dance floors week in week out, Thor is now focusing on bringing over 20 years of studio experience to bear on new material. With Icelandic techno enjoying a new flourishing, the time is right for its originator to take his rightful place at its head.