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Discovering SONAROMA: The Inspirations and Creative Journey Behind ‘Aberrant Reflections’

“Aberrant Reflections,” the latest album by SONAROMA, is a deeply personal and evocative work inspired by the ever changing industrial landscape of economy hit cities across Russia and Ukraine.

In this review, we explore how the sound of worn-out lo-fi tapes and old VHS movies continues to inspire, whilst diving into their studio setup, and creative process behind SONAROMA’s evocative new album, “Aberrant Reflections.”

“Throughout my story, it is evident that I never pursued music for financial gain; it has always been a passion and a hobby. In early 2024, I embarked on a new project that aims to be engaging both for myself and potential listeners.” – Roman

About the Artist

SONAROMA is the musical endeavour of Roman Oridoroga, a prolific composer and multi-instrumentalist who has performed in numerous local bands, playing a wide range of instruments, including guitar, drums, and piano. Additionally, they have contributed as a guitarist in a jazz big band and a semi-official Russian Toto tribute band.

Roman Oridoroga is music producer behind the alias SONAROMA.

Their passion for music extends beyond classical training, with a particular fondness for electronic music from the 1970s and 1980s, especially the nostalgic sound of analog synthesizers. Roman began their musical journey at a very young age, experimenting with a Soviet synthesizer called “Rhythm-2” and a Czechoslovakian transistor organ named Vermona. Despite their imperfections, these instruments sparked a lifelong fascination with electronic sounds.

“In 2008, I began releasing my music under the pseudonym Brutal Pena, creating 8-bit music inspired by the era’s popular genre and my love for vintage gaming consoles. I initially shared my tracks on pirate websites, where early internet users exchanged music. Composing 8-bit music required working with specialised trackers, making the process akin to programming.”

From 2014 onwards, Roman recorded short EPs under the name The Roman Screamroad, during the height of the retrowave boom, with the goal to emulate the impressive work of genre leaders, resulting in seven EPs and one full-length album.

In 2024, Roman initiated SONAROMA as a new project, steering his creative ambitions towards crafting Lo-Fi electronic music and ambient soundscapes. This venture aims to serve as a musical diary, featuring improvisations that endeavor to evoke nostalgia and construct epic, cinematic scores. Through SONAROMA, Roman seeks to explore and expand the boundaries of electronic music, creating immersive auditory experiences that resonate with listeners on a deep, emotional level.

“The idea for’Aberrant Reflections’ was conceived long before I officially embarked on this project. In January 2024, during a particularly challenging period in my life, I found myself yearning for creative fulfilment. To feel alive, to find joy, to work, and to be useful.”

“I needed a creative explosion. I needed to pour out everything within my soul into music.” – Roman

About the Album

Inspired by the aesthetics of decay and noise, SONAROMA immersed in the surroundings of Soviet-era panel buildings, the vast Kazakh steppes, and the remnants of Soviet heritage. In a quest to find something captivating in the unattractive and something mesmerising in the bleak, this journey gave birth to the album’s title, “Aberrant Reflections.”
It’s a somber sounding album at times, as it becomes evident that this is no ordinary retrowave album. It’s a storytelling musical journey of an ever changing landscape, with vast variety of sounds, moods and enigmatic atmospheres. It’s also heavily influenced by some iconic producers, as Roman would go on to say:

“In ‘Aberrant Reflections,’ I have endeavoured to blend elements from artists who have profoundly influenced me: Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel JarreVangelisHans ZimmerSoftwareGlobal CommunicationBoards of Canada, and Biosphere. This album represents my attempt to integrate these diverse influences into a cohesive work.”

The album is made up from a variety of MIDI equipment and VSTs. In their home studio, the primary workstation was a Korg TR, complemented by a Roland RS-5, a Korg MS-20, and a Vermona organ. The Korg TR was connected as a MIDI interface to a myriad of software synthesizers from Arturia and Korg, with a preference for software synths that emulate the operation of real and legendary machines.

Whilst on the road due to work commitments, Roman makes sure that he’s ready for music production when inspiration strikes. The setup includes a two-octave MIDI keyboard from Arturia and a MacBook Pro 13, $10,000 worth of plugins (Waves, Arturia, Neural DSP, Eventide).

Album Highlights

What is it about an album that captures your imagination? Is is the arrangement or flow of the album, or maybe the genre itself that resonates with you in a certain way?

This question arose as I listened to the album, which opens with the otherworldly single “Wave Glider.” This track, with its distant and somewhat dystopian sound, features a swirling electronica atmosphere that is both hypnotic and beautifully peaceful. It serves as a fitting introduction, infusing the album with an air of mystery and comfort that leads us on.

As the album progresses, the mysterious and somewhat ominous sound becomes more prominent, especially in tracks like “Block 17” and “Beyond The Karman Line.” The allure of mystery seems to capture the imagination, prompting reflection on the artist’s inspiration behind the album.

“My favourite single from the album is the track “Beyond the Karman Line.” The idea for the track came to me in the summer of 2023 after watching the film “Oppenheimer” in IMAX. There was a moment when Robert Oppenheimer awaited the detonation of Trinity, and the loud, unsettling music suddenly cut to deafening silence. This incredibly strong contrast in the narrative was one of the most vivid and memorable moments in the film, and it inspired me to recreate this effect.”

The album also features upbeat tracks that evoke a strong sense of 80’s electronica nostalgia. Track five, “Stargaze Airlines,” is a relaxed, downtempo piece of synthwave. Contrastingly, tracks like “Chromatic Aberration” stand out with their pulsating rhythm, dynamic percussion, and funky bassline.

However, you could argue that the second half of the album adopts a more beat-oriented focus. The sense of mystery dissipates, giving way to distorted, distant vocal clips within a mix that aligns more closely with the familiar synthwave sound. The outro single, “Life,” is a track that will undoubtedly capture your imagination. This beautifully presented nine-minute voyage features an engaging progression that delves deeper into the dystopian landscape and shares  Roman’s earlier influences from 80’s TV and sci-fi.

Along with a love for merging ambient soundscapes with lo-fi and synthwave elements, this fascinating contrast culminates in a thrilling finale to the album.

Release Date and Streaming

The album released on 7th June 2024, in which you can now stream on Spotify.

You can also support SONAROMA over on Instagram, Bandcamp and YouTube.

Interested in discovering our artist catalogue? Head to our artist page here.

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