For a while in the early '00s, Montreal was a superpower in electronic music rivaling Berlin, London, Detroit, and San Francisco. The Quebecois city was a hotbed of irreverent, exploratory techno, giving the lie to the common perception that the home of the MUTEK festival consisted mainly of dour chin-scratchers. Two of the most interesting artists from Montreal are now touring under the Avant_MUTEK banner: Akufen (DJing) and Stephen Beaupré (playing live).

Beaupré issued the excellent Foe Destroyer in 2006 for Akufen's Musique Risquée label. The disc exhibits Beaupré's mastery of creating tracks that combine sensuality, eeriness, and downright strangeness. All of these qualities culminate in "Les Filles." A rich, disjointed tapestry of myriad voices akin to a Nurse with Wound collage, the track builds a throbbing synth bass figure, a slurred, slapsticky horn sample, distorted harp plucks, and insistent hi-hat whispers. Foe Destroyer achieves the difficult feat of proving that quirkiness can fruitfully animate techno without derailing it into the annoying sphere of wackiness and undanceability.

Beaupré also collaborates with Deadbeat (Scott Monteith) as Crackhaus, which released the classic It's a Crackhaus Thing (Onitor, 2003). Crackhaus engage in more overtly pranksterish techno fusions, with often stunning results. The pair forges unlikely stylistic unions that bridge eras. There's an air of novelty in some of the tracks on It's a Crackhaus Thing, but they make genres like the blues cohere into a funky-house framework with surprising grace.

Akufen (aka Marc Leclair) was the most exciting techno producer in the world from about 2001 to 2003, during which time he released the trio of Pyschometry EPs on Trapez, the Quebec Nightclub double 12-inch on Perlon, and the My Way full-length on Force Inc. On these releases, Akufen constructs supremely disorienting and sexy tech-house through a meticulous process of micro-editing samples from records and the radio. My Way represents Akufen's production peak from this time: He creates richly atmospheric downtempo pieces that put into starker relief the dance cuts, which are crosshatched with a dizzying array of percussion, vocal, and textural elements. Check "Deck the House," "Jeep Sex," and "Late Night Munchies" for the most triple-jointed examples of this technique.

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As a DJ, Akufen proved his mettle with Fabric 17, his 2004 mix for the vaunted series sprouting from the London club of the same name. He stacks the set list with a host of producers who know how to keep a floor of dancers moving and smiling in equal measure. Crackhaus and Beaupré appear, as do Akufen alter ego Horror Inc., Matthew Dear, and Señor Coconut, among many others. One wishes Akufen were playing live at Nectar, but seeing him DJ is no shabby consolation prize. recommended

Akufen and Stephen Beaupré perform with Nordic Soul on Thurs April 15, Nectar, 9 pm, $10 adv/$12 DOS, 21+.

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