1/8/17: Pheeno – Rest

Listen along! Rest

Pheeno’s “Rest” is nostalgia, love, excitement, release, and a representation of the good things in life that stay constant. It’s an alluring guitar piece blanketed in electronic sounds, and aided by my favorite childhood characters: Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros was released in 1999 on the N64 to worldwide praise. In 2001, when Super Smash Bros Melee was introduced on the GameCube, the fighting game became a staple at sleepovers, after school hangouts, and dorm rooms everywhere. For 16 years, I’ve been relaxing by rolling over enemies with Yoshi, flying from them with Pit, and drilling them with Meta Knight. (More honestly, I’ve been being rolled over and smashed. I’m not very good.) In Middle School, Smash Bros provided a bit of after school fun. College transformed it into a pregaming activity. Now, it’s a weekend treat with longtime friends. Though the setting has changed, the Nintendo masterpiece has always represented rest. Pheeno does an unbelievable job of adding music to Super Smash Bros sounds to adequately represent the enjoyment, competitiveness, happiness, and ultimately relaxation the casual player feels during a round of Smash.

“Rest” is a lovely song with dynamic twists to represent a round of Smash Bros. It begins softly and sweetly, complete with the sounds of bubbles and whistles from the cuter characters in the game. As Soundcloud listener, Swanijam, states, the beginning “sounds like we’re getting ready for some jiggly lovin,” in reference to Jigglypuff, a favorite of the franchise. Then, the song progresses with sighs and whimpers amidst smashes and item grabs. At 1:19, there’s a KO, followed by a muffled, “Oh shit!” Throughout the song, Pheeno slips in a tad of the melody to “Beauty and the Beast,” as if the song wasn’t nostalgic enough already. The song climaxes at 2:08 with guitar feedback and more frequent character noises. After calming slightly, it ends with the clicking of controller buttons. Like the game, “Rest” is a relaxing whirlwind of sounds and emotions.

While “Rest” is an example of what makes music great, Pheeno, or Joseph Keenan, is an example of what makes musicians great.

In an interview with By Oath, Pheeno explained that he’s “inspired by people that care about what they do.” – And he takes that inspiration seriously. While his influences, such as Porter Robinson and Pretty Lights, are present, all of his music is unmistakably Pheeno. He takes the unpredictability of Skrillex, the emotional tension of Green Day, and the soothing power of Flume, and creates something entirely original: upbeat electronic music that allows the listener to breathe. More than most EDM music, Pheeno allows space for the listener to think. Even in his more up-tempo songs like “Open Up” and “Custom Games,” there are pauses and moments to reflect. In all of his songs, it is evident that he cares deeply about what he’s creating.

Not only does he care about his music, he also obviously cares about his fans and other music lovers. His YouTube channel acts as a discussion forum, with Pheeno answering questions about his inspirations, giving advice, and thanking people for listening. On his Facebook page, he responds to people’s compliments. Refreshingly, he is not afraid to show listeners his true thoughts. In the same interview with By Oath, he stated, “I just want to make music that…represents what I feel and am influenced by. …For example, my “Installation 01” EP that I released last year was about how I felt about Halo 3.” Honest descriptions of the music making process like that are rare. Also, I found that answer hilarious.

“Rest” is a delightful piece of music from an exciting up-and-coming star. Plus, the YouTube art is a Jigglypuff saying “Bruh.” For that, Pheeno is my Sunday’s Best.

Honorable Mentions:

The National Parks (Five Hour Winnipeg) – For doing what Local Natives can’t manage to do – make ethereal indie pop not boring.

Mondo Cozmo (Higher) – Because I needed some new “dancing while cooking” music.

The Shins (Name For You) – For still finding new, catchy melodies 20 years later.

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