SOUNDSCAPES | November 16, 2009

You never really know your neighbours, do you? I mean, sure, us Torontonians know that we have a really solid indie scene—one that spans everything from video-game punk to carnival-esque avant-jazz. But how many of you really knew that we had our very own Chopin lurking in our midst? Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that Todor Kobakov’s most well-known contributions to our music scene were as one half of the pop duo Major Maker—they’re responsible for that uber-catchy Maynard’s candy jingle. In other words, it’s okay if this one catches you by surprise. Kobakov may appear to be coyly acknowledging this past by calling his debut solo piano effort Pop Music, but it’s more than a gag. To start, two indie-pop vocalists in Emily Haines of Metrics and TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe contribute vocals to a pair of tracks. But with or without these vocal turns, he has made a rather populist album. With each track hovering in the three to four minute range, Kobakov makes sure to never overstate his talents or his ambitions, favouring tight, eloquent narratives over bombastic showmanship or drawn-out melancholy. Furthermore, his titles all offer direct windows into the themes of each piece. If it all sounds like I’m suggesting he’s recorded a sort of Solo Piano for Dummies, then a thousand apologies, because Pop Music is no such thing. Rather, it’s Solo Piano for the People—an album that is as humble and unassuming with its great gifts as it is generous. Simply gorgeous, timeless stuff.