Hailing from the Midlands, Helvissa are G (electro-bod-guy) and Helen Dansette (vocals). Their lo-fi electronica inhabits the alienated industrial land/soundscape of late 70s/early 80s Britain, where bedroom boffins twiddle knobs on synths and tweaked dials on drum machines to create brooding, repetitive, humanless tunes whilst a vocal commented disinterestedly on an alienated world. No, we’re not talking Depeche Mode. This is like Human League, without the sci-fi and before they want all sugar-snap-pop, and Kraftwerk in their Radioactivity times.
Cheap Eyeliner is an album of such musings: a world in which an Helvissa tune is a long, layered structure of synth-bass lines, growls, sweeps, and anachronistic drum machines (ah, that ‘Planet Rock’ beat); sprawling affairs and non-songs, not meant to be sung, hummed or remembered. What they do is create a grey canvas on which to spread the rather anodyne vocal. The vocal is distant, dispassionate; comments on humanity by an alien observer. However, it lacks a certain authority and it doesn’t quite pull it off successfully. It is an odd experience listening to Helvissa, by turns intriguing, irritating, and the “oh, has it stopped I’d forgotten I had it on” moments. File under The Twilight Zone.