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Reviews

NOOR: A Journey of Light
Harris Smart

A review written by Harris for the December issue of Subud Voice

[The CD reviewed below is available at: www.noorcd.com]

The most important thing that Geoffrey Armes has
done in his new CD, ‘Noor’, is to create a work of art that
is truly moral, in a way that very few works of art are these days.
It is a work that has real spiritual substance. It is a work that
provides real moral and spiritual nourishment.

Geoffrey is an English musician currently living in New York.
He is originally a guitarist although he now plays a number
of instruments. He is also a singer and composer and has
released several CDs of his music.

A number of years ago, Geoffrey played on what is surely
one of the most classic albums in all of pop music; that
is ‘Sweet Dreams are Made of This’ by the Eurhythmics.
In New York he has developed a speciality of playing the
guitar to accompany the exercises and performances of
dance companies. And he has also released a CD of this
very fascinating music.

‘Noor contains seven original songs. The origin of the
recording is the story of Noor Inayat Khan. She came
from a Sufi musician family and was herself a musician
and children’s book author. In the Second World War she
became a spy for the Allies and was arrested by the
Gestapo and executed. She was only 29 when she died.
The seven tracks on the album, zero in on key moral and
psychological moments in Noor’s journey. An accompanying
booklet gives the lyrics of the songs and brief explanatory
notes about their significance. This CD seems to me to
represent a kind of culmination of the directions of that
Geoffrey has been pursuing in recent years. He has been
much influencedby both Celtic and Sufi music, and previous CDs have
often featured long improvisational interludes in these styles.
These influences are still apparent on this CD, but the arrangements
are closely fused with the lyrics and with the overall meaning
of the story. It is not only a pleasurable experience, but it is something
that can do good for you. I can imagine people in moments of
moral uncertainty, turning to this music and finding in it a correct
framework for life. Something genuinely uplifting and strengthening. Returning you to the correct path if you were in danger of straying. It is a correct map of life.

Yes, what Geoffrey has done is create a kind of moral
map of key points in life. In Noor’s dramatic and tragic
life, he identifies certain key moments and points, and
each of these is the inspiration for a song. For instance the
first song "Take Me Up" is identified in the accompanying
text as "the moment of recognising destiny". The text
accompanying the final song, ‘Witness’, says: ‘The wish to see
and participate in life’s unfolding drama. To play one’s
correct role, whatever the cost’. In this way. Noor’s life,
or Geoffrey’s reflection on it, provide a universal moral
schemata. By looking into her life he has seen moments
of decision with which he has been able to identify himself,
and provided a scheme in which we will also be able to see ourselves.
Music fulfils many functions in our lives. It can be a consolation,
a comfort and a companion in loneliness. It can
inspire and energise us to dance. It can inform us and it
can provide us with emotional moments of great purity.
But it is rare in this day and age, as I say, in any medium
of popular culture, to come upon a work like Geoffrey’s
which really has a spiritual and moral content, yet at the
same time is extremely professional and can take its
place in a recognisable genre of popular music.
The other thing about this music is that it is very
danceable!!!