POP MUSIC REVIEW : Gerrard Blurs Line Between Pop and Fine Art

Pop music embraces a vast range of performance approaches, but it will never come closer to the formality of classical music than Lisa Gerrard's concert at the Wiltern Theatre on Wednesday.

Blurring the line between popular art and fine art, the moonlighting member of the exotic cult duo Dead Can Dance presented music from her solo album "The Mirror Pool."

Only true initiates might detect the distinctions between this and her work in Dead Can Dance. In both, liturgical chant merges with ancient Celtic strains and ethnic touches to form a sonic tapestry steeped in mood and atmosphere.

The white-gowned Gerrard stood at a pulpit surmounted by a yang chin, a dulcimer-like instrument. Six other musicians supplied meticulous backing on string, wind and percussion instruments, as well as orchestral samples.

Using her voice as a wordless instrument, Gerrard ranged from richly rounded sonorities to the pinched tones and melismata of Arabic music--wordless surges of spirituality that yielded a trance-like state. Gerrard never spoke, as if sustaining of these spells required all her resources. But the mood lightened and a note of accessibility was struck in several rhythm-based pieces, where instruments ranging from egg-size shakers to deep-voiced drum interlocked in medieval-flavored dance tunes. How accessible? For a minute there you could swear they were doing the Bo Diddley beat.

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