urning Japanese, she thinks she’s turning Japanese, Sioux really thinks so. With the Banshees seemingly banished as a musical force, The Creatures are now the prime creative outlet for Siouxsie and Budgie’s musical endeavours. Having already alighted upon Hawaiian traditions (Feast), Spanish flavours (Boomerang) and…err…electronic/industrial oddness (Anima Animus), this release sees their cultural eye turned firmly eastwards.
Or does it? The beautiful artwork and lyrical references certainly give the impression of Japanese influence but the sound remains undeniably Creatures in origin, even with the contribution of Taiko drummer Leonard Eto adding an exciting new percussive flair to the proceedings. It would be foolish to get bogged down in irrelevant discussions concerning ‘legitimate’ Japanese sounds and inspiration however; this is a Creatures record—pounding drums and whirling vocal howls are at the forefront once again.
At times there are staggering layers of percussion, rolling and playing off one another like stark waves reverberating against a vast shoreline. This dynamic interplay between Budgie and Eto was gathered from epic drumming sessions, cunningly crafted into nine separate packages to prevent things degenerating into something akin to an hour long drum solo (a truly nightmarish thought). Although tracks blend seamlessly into one another, they quickly identify themselves as unique entities. The ominous flourish which opens “Imagoro” sets the tone for the darkness to follow, while sections of “Tourniquet” are even reminiscent of the Monkey Island series of computer games (that’s a good thing, trust me). Subsequent diversity is evident on “Further Nearer” where the powerful maelstrom that has preceded is reined in, resulting in an altogether more delicate approach.
All this may be for naught were it not for Siouxsie’s considerable vocal presence, adding a subtle dusting of sugar to an already tasty dessert. Except the sugar lays sharp on the tongue and the dessert is poisoned. Such is the world of The Creatures; beneath a beautiful surface there may always lay a twisted surprise. And while the lyrics may not always live up to the imagery of old (I’m looking at you, “Around the World”), when Sioux belts out a line like “tidal tsunami, crashing white horses” in “Seven Tears” it’s difficult to avoid pondering which piece of nearby furniture would float best. “Tourniquet” lures us back in from the flood, purring and enticing with a raw sexuality that demands immediate attention. Then everything swings full circle as “Tantara!” brings the journey to an end, closing the record with a triumphant ‘hai!’.
All of this, and still time to squeeze in a touching ode to mighty fire-breathing lizards. Fun lyrics abound in “Godzilla” (“he breathes out fire and makes this noise” *cue Godzilla roar*), a stand-out single that would have snuck into the UK Top 20 were it not for a last minute sales-stats fiddle. But perhaps mainstream success would not suit. Perhaps these Creatures are meant to remain elusive. One thing is sure, Hai! shows they still have claws.
Reviewed by: Peter Parrish
Reviewed on: 2004-02-24