Electronica fans, be happy! - The Wire

If you don’t already know of Goddamn Electric Bill (www.godamnelectricbill.com), you’re in for a real treat. For those of you who aren’t so keen on this genre, check them out anyway, if for no other reason than to watch the video for “Lost in the Zoo.” It’s one of the freakiest and funniest things you’ll see outside of a David Lynch film. Goddamn Electric Bill is the name by which Jason Torbert unleashes his wildly creative imagination upon the world. His music is full of sounds, melodies and grooves that combine sitar, Fender Rhodes, guitar, percussion and mbira, among other instruments, to create what Slug Magazine has called “jaw-dropping cinematic tracks.” Torbert’s first full-length CD, “Swallowed by the Machines,” is electronic music of the caliber of Air or Boards of Canada.

An instrumental album but with a difference - Leonard's Lair

Signed to 99xoutof10, the record label run by ex-Cure keyboard player Roger O'Donnell, Goddamn Electric Bill is an instrumental album but with a difference. Whereas most modern artists rely heavily on electronica, Jason Torbert allies it with odd choices of instruments (bagpipes, Rhodes, sitar and mrbia all make it on to the record) to create his own identity. 'Our History Part 1' conveys a life in the desert, 'Witching Hour' provides warmth and melancholy in equal abundance. The tracks are infused with a refreshingly cosmpolitan view not a million miles away from Mike Oldfield. Then there's 'Looking Up At Down', an uplifting, wistful number that winds its way into the brain using a nagging acoustic melody. An engaging listen.

Beautiful, spiraling electronic instrumentals - Slug Magazine

Goddamn Electric Bill = incidental music from a Sofia Coppola circus film. I’ve never exactly been to a circus. I went to Circus Circus in Las Vegas and had a miserable time. I’ve seen the touring shows that camp inside large sporting venues with all their polish and shine. Sure it was fun, but it isn’t really what I’m looking for. I want a tent, make it red or yellow and fill it with rickety bleachers and put Kraftwerk on display next to Air and a whole bank of 80s arcade games chirping as a sea of mechanical monkeys chase around over-sized clowns with toy pianos and bowed guitars. Make it hopeful, but not too hopeful. Make it magical but believable. Keep it simple, like the strum of a guitar. Show me ladies dressed like ballerinas dangling from fishing line stretched across the horizon. Drown me in confetti, analogue knobs twisting as the cannons fire. Offer lions, drum machines and bears undomesticated, exotic and agitated. Douse me in beautiful, spiraling electronic instrumentals. Give me Goddamn Electric Bill at dusk with a girl and an "I love you" line.

Electronic album with soul - Delusions of Adequacy

Electronic albums tend to receive the unfair label of being cold and unemotional. This is just the first element that sets Machines apart from its contemporaries. The opening keyboard melody on “Lost In The Zoo” has enough warmth in it to carry the whole album. Though played in a choppy manner it’s evident it was played by human hands and isn’t a spliced up sample. Live instruments don’t necessarily make an album more human or warm but it can certainly help. By using his background in ethnomusicology Torbert adds in dimensions that might not normally exist in this particular genre. There is an almost tribal percussion element that works with a larger drum sound in “Our History, Part 1” that creates a bombastic approach and the short track “Before” features more of the same, albeit to not as large of an effect. (Actually it’s reminiscent of “Wounded Knee” on Primus’ Pork Soda.) The centerpiece of the album is “March At Dawn” which opens with another simple keyboard melody and a nice subtle sliding bass line before the drum machine kicks in. Behind all this a wash of guitar darts from ear to ear to foreshadow the big beat that comes in shortly after. What truly separates this track is that there is no coda, no return explosion after the first resolve. Torbert knows not to overwhelm the listener or fall into the standard regiment of intro/big beat/slow down/return of the big beat. At 10 songs the album lasts only 40 minutes, which is a blessing in the days of long winded & pushed-to-the-brink-of-capacity CD’s. Again Torbert sets himself apart from the pack. Influences new and old abound as well. There are acknowledgements to the forefathers such as Kraftwerk and Aphex Twin as well as newer acts such as Boards of Canada. Some of the guitar lines owe a slight debt to U2 echo and melody and working in conjunction with the keyboards, they lend a DJ Shadow like precision to the whole album. Each sound is meticulously placed and the result is an electronic album with soul. Emo-ambient? Unfortunately anything tagged “emo” carries a lot of negative connotations but that’s about as close of a description as you can get to describe the real feeling that permeates the album.

An imaginative and therapeutic listen - Music Matters Magazine

Swallowed by the Machines is the first full-length release by San Diego's Jason Torbert, aka Goddamn Electric Bill. His ten tracks of instrumental composition are more of the Postal Service persuasion than any dance-y trance-y sound bites you might file in the same "electronic" category. Rather, this album might befittingly serve as the soundtrack to a David Lynch film. ... What resulted was an imaginative and therapeutic listen that perfectly suits my rush-hour commute home from work - I pop in the CD, "Lost in the Zoo" comes on, and immediately the gridlock in my mind dissipates, my thoughts begin to wander, and I am willfully Swallowed by the Machines. Inronically, "Lost in the Zoo" was orginally intended as a song for a car commercial.

Fantastic - Music Emissions

Goddamn Electric Bill get the award for the most inappropriate artist name. With a cover containing the head of a t-rex and an album titled Swallowed By The Machines I was totally under the impression this was going to be a hard rock act in the vein of Nashville Pussy. Boy, was I wrong. Goddamn Electric Bill is the monicker that Jason Torbert from San Diego records his organic electronic albums. And Goddamn if they aren't some of the best electronic songs I've heard since the likes of Boards of Canada. It's one of those surprises that I'm in this business for. When a new band or artist creeps up and grabs your attention you can't help but shout out praises. That's what Torbert needs here is praise because these bedroom recordings are fantastic. They reek of ambient jazz and such but have that electronic feel to them that make them a little different. There are a lot of different instruments (I think), on here. While I wouldn't be surprised if Swallowed By The Machines was made on Garageband (Apple's junior studio), it doesn't matter because there is enough variety on here to latch onto. The entire album makes for wonderful personal headphone time. Rarely does the music turn darn (except for "Opa"). There is a reason that Goddamn Electric Bill was nominated for a San Diego Music Award. Film producers take note: this music is screaming to be used in your movies.

go back to the list