EXCLAIM! | December 2009

The trend of classical music crossing over into the mainstream (or our non-MTV/HMV version of the mainstream) has peaked recently with artists like Peter Broderick and Johann Johannsson turning up on indie labels, or Ryuichi Sakamoto being drawn into the world of electronics. Toronto, ON native Todor Kobakov plays a more rigid and recognizably classical form of solo piano than the forward-leaning tendencies of so-called “indie chamber music.” So, the Pop Music title is either an ironic jab or hinges solely on the two tracks featuring vocals by Emily Haines and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. The latter’s “Loving Hands” is a reflective gem of musical theatre. Kobakov’s instrumental tracks subdivide between Satie-derived gentle and deliberate minimalism, Chopin’s supple nocturnal statements and the watery cascade of notes that would make Rachmaninoff smile (maybe). Nods to post-classical or experimental forms never appear, as Kobakov’s reliance on the bedrock of popular form, arguably, is unwavering. - Eric Hill