"ANOTHER PLACE" marks something of a musical departure for Hiroshima. This West Coast band of Japanese Americans has won quite a following over the last six years by blending elements of pop and jazz with traditional Japanese instruments, creating an extremely palatable, if often emotionally pallid, fusion of the familiar and the exotic.
The sextet hasn't entirely abandoned that approach on "Another Place." Moody instrumentals such as "I Do Remember" make use of the traditional koto, a zither-like instrument, in a highly contemporary arrangement dominated by a synthesizer and outlined by an electric bass. As in the past, the results are certainly soothing and pretty, but seldom more than that.
The second side of the album holds a few surprises, though. "The Game," "Undercover," "What's It to Ya," and "Touch and Go" are all dance tracks, all stylishly sung by the band's new lead vocalist Barbara Long, and all are obviously aimed at attracting radio airplay. Trouble is, the band's idea of dance music ultimately isn't any more satisfying than its soft- focus approach to pop and jazz, and it's a lot less original.
HIROSHIMA -- "Another Place" (Epic BFE 39938); appearing Saturday at the Warner Theater.