Goddamn Electric Bill | Swallowed By the Machines

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Boards of Canada Sigur Ros The Album Leaf

Album Links
Goddamn Electric Bill "Lost in the Zoo" Video MySpace page

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United States - California

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Electronic: Ambient Electronic: Down Tempo Moods: Instrumental
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Swallowed By the Machines

by Goddamn Electric Bill

A propulsive blend of ambient electronic and post-rock music. For fans of: Sigur Ros, Boards of Canada, The Album Leaf, Explosions in the Sky, Air, Lemon Jelly, and Pinback.
Genre: Electronic: Ambient
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lost in the Zoo
4:07 $0.99
2. Our History, Part 1
3:46 $0.99
3. No Sign of Ringing
2:51 $0.99
4. Witching Hour
4:51 $0.99
5. May Fourteenth
4:26 $0.99
6. March At Dawn
4:30 $0.99
7. Before
1:44 $0.99
8. Opa
4:22 $0.99
9. Looking Up At Down
4:44 $0.99
10. The Nuclear Family
5:11 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The sounds of Goddamn Electric Bill were never meant to leave Jason Torbert’s bedroom. But the one-man band, a propulsive blend of ambient electronic, folktronica and post-rock music, made its way out to the world anyway.

Since 2004, Goddamn Electric Bill has been nominated for several San Diego Music Awards, licensed music for television and film (including the 2010 Sundance Film Festival dramatic competition film, Douchebag), released two full-length albums on London’s, 99X/10 Records (run by former The Cure keysman Roger O’Donnell), including the new 2008 release “Topics For Gossip,” and been featured in San Diego CityBEAT, Music Matters Magazine and The San Diego Union-Tribune. But Torbert isn’t new to the musical arena.

Torbert’s suburban childhood was spent playing trombone in high school and college jazz ensembles. It was at University of Oregon that Torbert began his seven-year stint as the bassist for a popular punk outfit called Cigar. The band signed to a label run by Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge and toured internationally before calling it quits. Jason tried his luck at a few other projects, including one band that signed to Jim Ward’s (At The Drive-In/Sparta) label, Restart Records, but Torbert figured out that the band life wasn’t for him.

It was the sounds Torbert made on his own – from bass, guitar, rhodes, sitar, mbira, vocals, percussion and synthesizers – that turned into Goddamn Electric Bill. And it is those sounds that Slug Magazine called “jaw-dropping cinematic tracks” and Rip It Up Magazine called “uplifting in both mood and subtlety.” And it is those sounds that continue to cause a stir.

“Some of the best electronic songs I’ve heard since the likes of Boards of Canada”
Music Emissions

“Jaw dropping cinematic tracks”
Slug Magazine

“Hypnotic tracks that swallow you up”
ReGen magazine

“Uplifting in both mood and subtlety”
Rip It Up Magazine



to write a review

Music Emissions

Some of the best electronic songs I've heard since the likes of Boards of Canada
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.

Leonard's Lair

An instrumental album but with a difference
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.


Unlike the anger usually associated with a phrase that this band is named after, this CD is quite happy.

Music Matters Magazine

An imaginative and therapeutic listen
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.

Daisy Dead Petals

Refreshing, layered, complex CD that hasn't left my CD player
I discovered this artist through mySpace, and listened to him because I thought the name was funny. But it only takes a few moments to realize that Goddamn Electric Bill is no joke. His songs are completely different from anything else out there, and a refreshing reprieve from the monotony of rock songs, or standard electronic songs, and the predictable verse, chorus, verse, chorus. Everytime I listen to his music, I hear something new, some little part I didn’t know was there before. It’s hard to believe one person created all of this. Sometimes gritty, sometimes painfully beautiful, the album is cohesive without being repetitive, and since it’s instrumental, it doesn’t anchor you to a set of words, but allows you to drift and wander. I highly recommend this album, especially to those who have been bored with music and are looking for something new.

The Wire

Electronica fans, be happy!
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.


Goddamn Electric Bill is at its best when it’s about layered melodies
Fusing raw the electronic synth familiar in 80's revival dance and straight forward electro sensibilities with catchy acoustic guitars, Goddamn Electric Bill is at its best when it’s about layered melodies. Progressive dynamics take you, as a movie soundtrack, on a road-trip through sp many influences and musical cultures. Stand out track for me is March At Dawn. Please watch the Lost in The Zoo video as it brings a whole new feeling to the track.

Pierce Anderson

Glad I found Goddamn Electric Bill!
Picked up this album on a whim while shopping for other albums. Boy was I impressed when it arrived! Beautiful mix of electronica and post-rock! Must have for any instrumental music fan!

Delusions of Adequacy

Electronic album with soul
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. Shame about that goddamn name though.


If I made commercials and movies...
...this cd would be in my top ten pile for soundtrack music. There are some great emotions within these instrumental songs that make me think of all kinds of wonderful (and sometimes sad) things. Thumbs way up.
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