Lisbon-based electronic producer and DJ Marco Rodrigues first appeared under his Photonz alias back in 2006 with his debut ‘Ronin’ EP, and since then he’s developed a reputation as one of the driving forces amongst that city’s underground dance scene, co-founding the Mina parties alongside fellow Lisbon DJ Violet, a monthly, sex-positive, queer and intersectional-feminist techno party.
While he’s continued to release a steady stream of new 12” releases over the ensuing twelve years though, he’s only just finally getting around to releasing his debut album ‘Nuit’ (the title referencing the Egyptian Goddess of the Stars or Night) now. As both the title and lunar-themed sleeve art hint, there’s a distinctly nocturnal feel to the eleven tracks collected here, which venture between electro, dubby techno and acid house-laced territory.
Opening track ‘Xentra’ kicks this album off with what’s easily one of its most intriguing moments as a sinuous dubby groove builds around rolling tribal drum rhythms and buzzing analogue synths, the snakelike arpeggiated sequences that worm their way out of the centre of the mix adding a vaguely sinister undertone to the flowing headnodding grooves.
By contrast, ‘Shifting Symbols’ wanders out into the sort of elastic-sounding broken IDM rhythms and smeared synthscapes that you’d associate with early era Aphex Twin or Reload, the serrated snare breaks that roll against the analogue bass chords adding a slight trap feel as they contribute an undertone of friction to the most smoothed-out elements that flow around them.
Elsewhere, ‘No Body’ offers up an elegant respite from the 4/4 techno rhythms as a wall of stacked ambient synths trails like a fog over a weary-sounding bassline and melancholic piano keys, before ‘Brighter Tomorrows’ propels things off towards the horizon with what’s easily this album’s most streamlined main room floor filler, the vaguely Italo-house arpeggios being pushed in a more muscular and tech-house loaded direction, as the hi-hats get filtered into ghostly echoes of themselves. This is a storming debut album from Photonz that’s been more than worth the wait.