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Noor
Dene Bebbington 2006

http://melliflua.com/noor.html

The title of this album is from the name of Sufi princess Noor Inayat Khan who was a spy during World War II. Geoffrey Armes was inspired by her story and how her spiritual background fits in with her wartime actions and awful fate. Musically this work has similarities to his previous album Spirit Dwelling so there’s lots of acoustic instrumentation, and more singing this time around. Helpfully the liner notes contain the lyrics.

An echoed and lonely atmosphere is created in many of the tracks. Take ìYasmeenî; hand beaten sticks and deftly plucked strings appear setback in the soundscape as vocals and occasional female spoken words complete the emotional tone of this piece. Like much of the album this piece may be most appreciated on good headphones due to the amount of subtle instrumentation.

Standing out as a particularly accessible track is ìAnima Cameraî. Geoff’’s somewhat breathless vocals sing against a pleasant uptempo rhythm of acoustic guitar, percussion and 1970s style electric piano. The song is melodious in a non-obvious way and quite hypnotic.

Geoff has a unique style in my opinion. Incorporating elements of world music, funk, shoegazer perhaps, and new age there’s enough going on to interest those looking for more than a casual musical experience. Detail lurks for those prepared to discover it - including some nice twiddled strings and chattering percussion.

I found my response to the earnest sensibilities of Noor to be much the same as with Spirit Dwelling - intriguing but not totally compelling. The music has a kind of dreamy quality and also a certain je nai sais quois.