Atomic Tortoise began as a solo project by Aaron Younce in 2005, and over time, has become a revolving collaboration with friends and fellow musicians creating a unique blend of rock songs, western ballads, and dreamy instrumental music. Each record has its own unique tone and direction and can fit a variety of moods and vibe.
Their debut album, Upended Hourglass, was released in 2007 and is essentially a pensive, flamenco-inflected singer/songwriter album. Supporting Aaron’s vocals, guitars, and other effects on the record are David Tam (keyboards), Ryan Odello (congas) and Drew Cueva (drums).
The second release, Entropy [and the Relative Study of Negative Space] (2009), is a concept album still peppered with flamenco guitar flourishes, but largely overrun by heavily effected electric guitars, keyboards, vocal harmonies, myriad overdubs, and long-winded expanses of digital and analogue soundscapes. Drew Cueva provided drum parts for some of the album, while it is otherwise entirely instrumented by Aaron.
In 2013, Atomic Tortoise released The Castaway EP, an effort characterized by more accessible songs that channel an aggressive, if somewhat spaghetti western-influenced rock sound. Joining Aaron on the EP is recurring drummer Drew Cueva, and bassist Benjamin Strange.
During the Castaway sessions, Aaron recorded a collection of finger style gypsy-folk ballads, which was released in 2014 as The Tide EP. Aside from occasional piano and Mellotron passages by the record’s producer Phillip “Philbillie” Milner, this record is just Aaron with a microphone and an old Gibson acoustic guitar.
In 2015 Aaron took two of his acoustic songs from The Tide EP into the studio with his New York based band Mobile Steam Unit [Sam Huntington (vocals, keys), Jeff Manian (vocals, keys, synths), Pat Manian (vocals, drums), Ivan Anderson (guitar)] and they recorded juiced up arrangements of them. Following Aaron’s departure from the band he re-released them along with two other original MSU songs for the Steam Sessions (2016).
Aaron’s latest release is a single called Morning Star (2020). This hypnotic instrumental groove is a synth-showered depiction of our Sun rising and setting. It is Atomic Tortoise’s first foray into full MIDI electronic music. No actual instruments appear on this recording, but the technology synthesizes analog synthesizers pretty damn well!