Record Review: The Creatures – Hai! UK 2xCD

Sioux Records | UK | 2xCD | 2003 | SIOUXDCD15

The Creatures: Hai! UK 2xCD [2003]

Disc One

  1. Say Yes!
  2. Around The World
  3. Seven Tears
  4. Godzilla!
  5. Imagoro
  6. Tourniquet
  7. Further Nearer
  8. City Island
  9. Tantara!

Disc Two [instrumental]

  1. Say Yes!
  2. Around The World
  3. Seven Tears
  4. Godzilla!
  5. Imagoro
  6. Tourniquet
  7. Further Nearer
  8. Tantara!

Last weekend I came across a release while trolling the bins at the local Mr. K’s that I’ve been aware of for almost a generation but have never seen in the flesh. It was the even more unusual 2xCD UK edition of the last album by The Creatures before they vanished in a puff of divorce. There’s also a CD + DVD package, but beggars can’t be choosers! I snapped it up without a second thought. If I had a handle on things, this was the last Creatures studio album I needed for their full run. They have numerous ltd. ed. live albums that Sioux Records self-released after this but that way madness lies. Besides, all of them are priced way out of my league. I like Siouxsie Sioux, but I’m not a “collector.”

So this morning I played it while driving to the gym and later my job and I have to say… it was one of the more underwhelming experiences of my listening practice. The arc of the first three albums by The Creatures played out widely over a fifteen year span. The first album, “Feast” was a largely improvised excursion into Polynesian music grounded in Budgie’s percussion. The next Creatures album was “Boomerang” made six years later in Spain with a concurrent Iberian influence. “Anima Animus” followed almost a decade later which showed the band abandoning the primarily percussive gambits to make the synthesizers as up front as the drums. And then this album was recorded in Japan a few years later, after which, Siouxsie divorced her drummer and went solo.

There are scant keyboards to speak of here. Budgie was also credited with piano and “synthetiques” but they are few and far between. Only what are called “chaos tapes” as provided by Hoppy Kamiyama, who set the band up with Kodo drummer Leonard Eto. And even those are barely there. What this album was about were drums. So in that respect, it was a return to roots for The Creatures. The drums dominated the soundstage as there was apparently a Western kit as manned by Budgie and an Eastern kit, as played by Leonard Eto. Siouxsie’s presence on the songs seemed perfunctory. She vocalized and wrote the lyrics, but they were of secondary importance on this project. At the end of the day I had to admit that this was the dullest album that either The Creatures or Siouxsie had ever made.

Quite frankly, the very informative liner notes by drummer Budgie revealed that the sessions in Japan were basically slapdash improv sessions with he and Leonard Eto bouncing drums off of each other in a ninety minute session. Then they took the tapes home to France where Siouxsie wrote some of her weakest lyrics and tried to impose some melodic structure to the jams, which Budgie edited down. There’s little in the way of song structure here. The single “Godzilla” was the most dully obvious thing the ever issue from Sioux’s pen, but none of these songs are worth writing home about. That this album followed the strongest work I’d ever heard from Sioux [“Anima Animus”] and that being a peak nearly twenty years [!] into her career, was particularly galling. I was expecting an impressive new phase going forward from songs like “Exterminating Angel.” Sadly; this was not the case to these ears.

This project seemed like a contractual obligation but for the fact that they released it on their own. Having heard the results, I now suspect that any labels still active in 2003 gave these songs a pass. No wonder they started their own label, Sioux Records, for this. I’d like to be able to say more but in all candor, I found listening to this once to be a chore. Siouxsie’s presence is no better than a guide vocal on these tracks. Basically, there are a lot of drums happening on these tracks and little else. One could say pretty much the same thing about the first two Creatures albums as well, but in those cases, they remembered to write some songs.

– 30 –

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9 Responses to Record Review: The Creatures – Hai! UK 2xCD

  1. Gerald McBoing-Boing says:

    Ok, I’m definitely a Siouxsie obsessive (to a point, I’m out after “Peepshow”) but the Creatures catalog is almost all gold. Their early stuff as collected on “A Bestiary Of” is breathtaking. Even this album, “Hai”, is half great – just stop after track 5.

    Their non-lp material is almost all worth tracking down – including those rare fanclub singles “Sad C*nt”, “Murdering Mouth”, “Rocket Ship” and “Red Wrapping Paper”.

    Lastly, the best guest appearance by Siouxsie is the wonderful “Cish Cash” by Basement Jaxx.

    All these songs can be found on Youtube for your enjoyment.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gerald McBoing-Boing – Those rare fan club singles will set me back $150-200! Not in this lifetime. They’ll get reissued, I’ll bet. Along with goodies like “Attack Of The Super Vixens.” I once saw THAT single in my local emporium and wondered what in the hell it was. Why I didn’t just buy it is one down to my eternal lack of cash.

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  2. slur says:

    Sioux Records was actually est. way earlier, after the Banshees called it quits and Sioux & Budgie concentrated on The Creatures with the ‘Anima Animus’ phase which is not my favourite one of them b.t.w., but way more interesting than ‘Hai!’.
    I got the same issue mentioned here willingly after having first purchased the CD/DVD edition by accident. The fact that this was issued in various ltd. combinations was already a critical sign for over exploiting the basic idea.
    The instrumental disc sort of works but as a whole it’s really weak and shows perhaps the lack of chemistry beetween sioux and budgie more than intended.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      slur – I sort of get what you are saying about “Anima Animus.” It really diverges strongly form the whole Creatures concept [though I love it] and in that light, it was a mis-step for “The Creatures,” who were always driven by ethnic drumming. I think of it as a great Siouxsie solo album. Speaking of which, I have yet to hear “Mantaray.” Actually, I saw it in the same store as the “Hai!” 2xCD but I opted for the Creatures disc as I thought it might be better.

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      • slur says:

        I would have opted for a ltd. release in this case too, the only ltd. edition of ‘Mantaray’ was the outer cardboard sleeve as far as I know which means nothing compared to an extra disc.
        As for ‘Mantary’ I really tried to like it but the strongest tracks suffer from the uninspired backing band – It was a lame start for a solo career and on Tour the tracks from the Banshees or The Creatures where played way more passionate and convincing then the solo songs. So ‘An Evening With Siouxsie’ is a way better Testament (?) to her last phase.

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