When Siouxsie & The Banshees' 'Seven Year Itch Tour' ended in Japan, August 18, 2002, it marked the end of an era.  24hrs later, an impromptu session in a Tokyo recording studio heralded the beginning of something new...

"No more maybe, no more could be, say yes!"  Siouxsie

Siouxsie & Budgie return as The Creatures with their emphatically titled new album 'Hái!' Translated, the title of this Self-produced, Anglo-Japanese fusion means 'Yes!' and is released on their own Sioux Records label on October 20, 2003 .

As mysterious as the serene yet sensual beauty of the cover image by Japanese artist Kimiko Yoshida, 'Hái!' is an alchemy of distilled atmospherics and sublime minimalism. Yet as Siouxsie's vocals soar over Budgie's daredevil drums & marimbas, syncromeshed to the pulsing Taiko rhythms of ex-Kodo drummer Leonard Eto, 'Hái!' soon splits several sonic skins to emit a roar that would rival that of Japan's most famous movie monster, 'Godzilla!', whose paean from Siouxsie will be released as a single on October 6, 2003.

"The Creatures are primal: it’s our guts, our deepest instincts coming through." Budgie

'Hái!' began on the stormy Tokyo morning when fate brought Budgie and Taiko drum master Leonard Eto together for the first time. The ensuing spontaneous drumming frenzy was like lightning striking at the source of a rhythmical rainbow. The sizzling spectrum of beats unleashed in that one relentless recording session would become the backbone of the album.

"I was enthralled as I watched the coming together of these two kindred spirits. Words and melodies came to me immediately but mindful of breaking the spell, I had to store my inspiration until we got back home to France ." Siouxsie.

Continuing a pioneering journey that began with The Creatures' recording their first album 'Feast' in Hawaii (1983), 'Boomerang' in Spain (1989) and 'Anima Animus' France, USA & UK (1999), 'Hái!' threads together a characteristically diverse mix of inspirational sources. Touched by the delicate snowfall imagery of Akira Kurosawa's 'Ikiru' (1952), absorbing the vibrancy of Tokyo 's Roppongi district, and spiritualised by the ancient Shinto shrines and tranquil shores of Lake Ashi .

From the opening Semi Cicada drone of 'Say Yes!', we are exposed to an audioramic assault in 'Around the World' and 'Seven Tears'. Charmed by the B-movie humour of 'Godzilla!' and seduced by the Shamanic chant of 'Imagoro'. We traverse the sexual tightrope of 'Tourniquet', experience the strikingly beautiful fatalism of 'Further Nearer', languish in the poignant isolation of 'City Island', before finally being transported on the Hokusai Wave of assertive optimism that is 'Tantara!'

If Budgie's drums are the beating heart of The Creatures, then Siouxsie's voice is the lifeblood, capable of the same ground-shaking dynamism it is also, as is evident on 'Hái!', an increasingly subtle and uniquely entrancing instrument.

"The spirit of Japan has touched our souls and a new chapter in the story of 'The Creatures' has begun." Budgie. 




  Unknown source 2004  
  Hai Advert Click Here For Bigger ScanBanshees no more, the fourth Creatures album finds Siouxsie and inamorata Budgie turning Japanese.

The Creatures project always gave Budgie a chance to shine and this, based on a fearsomely powerful session he shared with Taiko drum master Leonard Eto, is no exception.  He dominates the opening part of the album with his savage beats, Siouxsie relegated to the odd "Yeah" and "Hai!".  Thankfully they're careful not to enter Cozy Powell territory, and soon they're blending traditional Japanese instrumentation with minimalist industrial atmospheres to create the breathy erotica of "Tourniquet", the spectral, fatalistic "Further Nearer" and the twee, purposely comic "Godzilla".  It certainly wont be everyone's cup green tea, but Budgie is outstanding here, with Siouxsie occasionally matching him.  


Dominic Wills



  Time Out 2003  
  Hai Advert Click Here For Bigger ScanThe pounding, pulsating, pulverising three three minute, 22 second drum solo that leads off this album lets you know exactly what you're in for here - one hell of a time if you're suffering from a hangover.  The inspiration for Siouxsie and Budgie's mesmeric fifth album as The Creatures comes from the Far East, and the backbone of the album is formed by the ancient taiko rhythms of ex-Kodo drummer Leonard Eto, Budgie's co-conspirator on percussion.  The Japanese influence doesn't end with Eto - Hai! was recorded in Tokyo, the title and credits are Japanese ('Hai' means 'Yes!'), artist Kimiko Yoshida provided the stark cover, and the songs have titles such as 'Godzilla', 'Imagoro' and 'Tantara!'.

In the wrong hands, this could have turned into Rhythm Sticks meets Yo! Sushi, but that wasn't going to happen while Siouxsie is around.  Her voice is the dominant instrument here, snaking and curling around the bouncing drumming backdrop, elegiac and inhuman as she chants, purrs and whispers her way around the album.  The centrepiece is the tense, sensual, whirl of 'Tourniquet', a spellbinding nine minutes around which the rest of the album hangs, awed but not unbowed but it's presence.  'Landlocked/ wind and bind/you grind and grind', growls Siouxsie with a seductive sneer.  It's a virile, sultry salute to lust and bondage, and will cure anybody of their hangover.  A spine-tingling achievement. 

Peter Watts  



  Stylus 24/02/04  
Hai Advert Click Here For Bigger ScanTurning 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.  

Peter Parrish



  Source Unknown 2003  
  Hai Advert Click Here For Bigger ScanEx-Banshees Siouxsie and Budgie go tribal - in Tokyo.

The visceral thud that always lay at the heart of the Banshees' music has been noticeably quietened in recent years.  That should all change with this often frenzied set based around an impromptu percussion battle between Budgie and kodo drum legend Leonard Eto.  It's no coincidence that one of the key cuts, Godzilla!, celebrates the Japanese King Kong.  The closest approximation to a conventional song structure on the record, it hits just the right balance of warrior beat and war cry.  Guaranteed to re-ignite the enthusiasm of lapsed Banshees devotees, it'll likely prompt more than a few disbelievers to take note, too.  Those big, Bonham-like beats are Sumo-sized headlocks.  But Hai! boasts more than a few moments of jasmine-scented intimacy, where Sioux's inimitable Banshee yelp does daintily nuanced dances to Budgie's intricate marimba manipulations.  A robust return.


Mark Paytress



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