Noor in Imaani
by Rehan Qayoom
A Muslim lady interrogated and killed by the Nazis!? Yes, that’s right. Noor Inayat Khan, the daughter of the Sufi philosopher and teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan was killed in Dachau on 13 September 1944. She was only 29 years old. Her lifelong talent and love for music, above all, her passion to follow in her father’s footsteps and carry on his important work has been the inspiration of Geoffrey Armes’ latest album NOOR.
The 7 songs are all as long as the emotion of the song demands. Such a cacophonous variety of instruments have been used that one really needs to listen to the song cycle in its entirety in one go and then again to grasp the essence of the album. Otherwise one doesn’t really know where one song ends and another begins, so consistent is the theme: ’These were dark times, and I think that she felt that it wasn’t enough to sit around - she needed to do something to take part in the struggle...we still live in dark times, with the potential of overwhelming evil in the world still. Noor’s story could easily be one that has to be lived again. And that’s rather frightening.’
The extra voices in French of the resistance ladies on the second track YASMEEN offer an intriguing aside that should have been left until the end of the song as a flashback rather than in the middle, like the other reverberations that reappear in other songs (such as those of ’Set me free’ and ’Release Me’ or ’Moscow, Paris, London’).
AFTER DARK is so engulfed in the music that the transcendence of the cries of ’Liberty’ have a negative effect when heard against an historical background of those being Noor’s last words as she welcomed death for the cause in which she believed she was offering her life, as part of her destiny.
The final track, called WITNESS, represents hope and a life given up to one’s destiny with total helplessness as well as a sense of joy in knowing that one has fulfilled that destiny.
NOOR is the perfect album to listen to as a diversion from un-kept promises and broken hearts. It sounds like coming in home to tea and buttered toast on a rainy soggy day. It invokes and evokes ’The rapturous ignorance of long ago. the peace, before the dreadful daylight starts’.
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