At the heart of the Pyrenees, right between Spain and France, lies a tiny country known as the Principality of Andorra.
And in that country, one artist rules over that which remains unseen and unheard: Igniael.
Igniael (a.k.a Iñaki Barrocal) has been active since 2008, first as Iñaki (although Andorran press insisted in referring to him as Iñaki Barrocal) and then as Igniael.
Regardless of the name, Igniael remains one of the most unusual and eclectic acts in the Principality of Andorra. His work has appeared in many shapes and styles, but has always maintained itself within the boundaries of ambient music (while occasionally veering into experimental music), and has brought forward a constant series of innovations in the Andorran music scene.
His debut album, the all-vocal and nature-inspired Almost Me, was self-released in 2009 and got known through word-of-mouth, although at the time Igniael was viewed as little more than a young promise. This release marked the first time an Andorran artist had incorporated nature recordings of the national landscape into his work (“Spirits of the Forest”).
The release of Almost Me also marked the beginning of Igniael’s seemingly never-ending creative outburst, starting a parade of albums and singles released at a dizzying speed.
His second and third efforts, Seibutsu (2010) and Laptop Dayreaming Vol.1 (2010) saw Igniael delve into musical experimentation, using only vocals for Seibutsu and non-instrument instruments (i.e. everyday objects) for Laptop Daydreaming Vol.1.
Igniael’s fourth album, Océanide (2011) was a compilation of sea-related covers along with some originals; it was uploaded to YouTube and managed to attract a rather positive response from its listeners. His following effort Amor, Amen, Mort (Laptop Daydreaming Vol.2) (2011) was a continuation of the first Laptop Daydreaming, expanding on the idea of non-instrument instruments albeit with a heavy focus on horror-related material.
2011 also saw the release of Igniael’s sixth album Solar System Suite (2011), a modern update of sorts of Gustav Holst’s 1940 The Planets, although Igniael drew his inspiration from science and not from astrology like Holst did.
The turning point in Igniael’s discography came with his seventh album Arachnida (2012) which was a departure from his previous ethereal all-vocal arrangements and into a more electronic style, incorporating beats and instruments to create a dark ambient fantasy. This shift towards electronic music continued with Igniael’s first compilation The First Age: Remixes (2012) and came to a climax with what would become Igniael’s breakthrough album: the more pop-inclined Call Me “Your Majesty” (2013).
Call Me “Your Majesty” saw Igniael experiment with sampling and, for the first time, actively promote his music in his home country with a rather curious plan where each extracted single from the album (7 in total) was a chapter in a fairy tale that would be completed with the last one. 2014 saw Igniael record his first ever Catalan song: “Sense Rendir-me”.
To celebrate his first 5 years as a musician, Igniael released his second compilation Honshitsu (Essence) (2014), consisting of his favourite and more defining tracks and constructed as a journey from the bottom of the sea towards space.
2014 also saw the release of Laptop Daydreaming Vol.3, the third and final chapter in the Laptop Daydreaming trilogy which focused on the idea of silence turned into music.
By the end of 2014, Igniael released Empireo, a follow-up to Call Me “Your Majesty” with a more sensual/sexual overtone. Empireo was promoted in Andorra like Call Me “Your Majesty” but with a less elaborate plan. The promotion of Empireo would continue well into 2015, which saw Igniael finally make his live debut with his show EmpiREAL.
In 2015, Igniael was approached by the Oklahoma-based netlabel WEATNU Records and published his third compilation, Droit de Règne: 2013-2015 with them.
After that, Igniael took a 2-year hiatus to focus on his other project Akiba Jonze.
He eventually returned in 2017 with Nº6 (Roku), an ambient rock continuation of the story behind Empireo which also marked the first time Igniael featured his guitar playing over his vocals.
Igniael’s fifteenth album, Blossom, was also released in 2017. Blossom was a return to the original ambient pop formula that chronicled Iñaki’s personal recovery from a severe depression and into full health. The album was instantly praised for its aerial sound and eclecticism.
In 2018, Igniael published Solar System nº2, a continuation of the original Solar System Suite that focused on asteroids and dwarf planets. He also started to re-record some of his older albums and ended up remaking Océanide in its two versions (covers and originals), as well as its singles and the never-before released Achéron, an extension of Océanide with more covers of sea-related songs.
Igniael is a one-man army: he alone takes care of all of the musical work (writing, recording, editing, remixing), as well as the visuals (photography, videos) and promotion work (releases, uploads, promotion campaigns). Furthermore, he also owns and manages two netlabels through which he releases his music: Khannonmusic Studios and Mothermantra Records.
Igniael’s live performances are extremely rare, as the Andorran music scene consists mostly of cover bands aimed at tourists, hotels and ski resorts, and interest for local music acts is all but non-existent. Nevertheless, his rare live performances are a powerful audio-visual experience not to be missed!
As you can see, Igniael’s story is prolific and never-ending, so be sure to catch up!