III Points ended a couple of weeks ago, and even amid all the stellar local and national talent on the bill, you'd be hard-pressed to find an act that embodied the spirit of the festival as well as Twelve Tales. The Miami-bred production duo, composed of lifelong friends Michael Montuori and Daniel Abruna, merges music, art, and technology — the three tenets of III Points — with relative ease.
The group's most recent work, the debut EP Prelude, is a dreamy, nostalgic ode to the days when Final Fantasy and 106 & Park captured the imaginations of a generation now solidly in its 20s. And Twelve Tales' live show is an artful expression of the members' glitchy, anime-inspired leanings as well as their technological prowess as VJs.
Still, for the South Florida duo, the music remains the driving force from which all else follows.
Their production style is a combination of early-'00s hip-hop samples and late-'90s role-playing videogame soundtracks. As Montuori describes it: "We're nerds who've been party people." That ability to straddle the fence between gamer and hip-hop head has provided a broad range of inspiration for the two artists.
Prelude, for example, falls somewhere along a spectrum bookended by the Legend of Zelda soundtrack and Yung Joc's hottest verses.
The opening track, "Continue," sets the table for the project and, by extension, Twelve Tales' future. "?'Continue' came about while we were kind of lost," Montuori explains over the phone. "We ended up messing around with a song Daniel had already taken down off of his SoundCloud."
For a pair enamored by RPGs, the track's title seems like an appropriate metaphor for the moment when the two found themselves at the proverbial crossroads. Tasked with choosing to carry on through the maze of the music industry or turn off the game altogether, Twelve Tales pressed continue.
"That song was the turning point," Abruna says, "when we decided to make new songs and push forward — to begin branding and create a look to go along with the music."
Even with the occasional trip down a digital memory lane, the EP's standout tracks concentrate on mashing hip-hop samples together with breezy instrumentals more characteristic of the resourceful "beat" scene quickly growing in popularity across the blogosphere.
"Cherie Amour," a track off the EP that features sampled vocals from Stevie Wonder and Waka Flocka, feels like it could play at an intergalactic wedding. And "The Weed Song," which features sampled vocals from Big Boi, Rick James, Justin Timberlake, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, feels like, well, an ounce of weed converted into MP3 format.
If Prelude is any indication of things to come, the future looks bright for a duo that began to take itself seriously only a year ago.
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"As an artist, it feels like you're slowly watering your plants every day by yourself, and then one day you look outside and see a garden," Montuori says.
Now, with a slew of underground Miami talent bubbling to the surface in recent months, the duo charts its growth as parallel to the growth it has seen in the local scene.
"With III Points and [the Electric Pickle's weekly] the Love Below party, there seems to be a movement growing, and it's about bringing these people together and putting them in the same building," Abruna says. "We're all in our dungeons creating, and events like that help to bring us all out and see all these Miami artists in one place and eventually collaborate."