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Continuum Continuum album cover
3.04 | 19 ratings | 3 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side 1
1. Invention
2. Allamande and blues
3. Allegro
4. Bouree

Side 2
1. Legend of Childe Harold
a) Revelate
b) Dance of destruction
c) Release
d) Approach of judgement
e) Apodosis

Line-up / Musicians

- Yoel Schwarcz / classical guitar, flute, recorder, harmonica
- John Warren / classical guitar
- Mike Hart / double bass
- Dick Wildman / drums and percussion

Releases information

RCA Victor catalogue number SF8157

Thanks to easy livin for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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CONTINUUM Continuum ratings distribution

(19 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (21%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CONTINUUM Continuum reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Bach to the future.

Released in 1970, Continuum's first album is a confident statement consisting of three pieces based on Bach compositions, one based on Handel's "Allegro", and a side long suite composed for the band by Richard Hartley. There are lengthy sleeve notes explaining the compositions further, and I shall borrow from these during the review (although they are at times complex, perhaps even pretentious). Quotes from the sleeve notes are shown thus ^quote ^.

The album opens with "Invention", a band composition based on Bach's "Invention no. 13 in A minor". The two classical guitar players in the band pick up the theme before multi-instrumentalist Yoel Scwarcz switches to recorder and then flute. The piece was ^originally written as a counterpoint exercise ^, the band increasingly improvising away from the main theme.

"Allemande and blues" is another Bach inspired band composition. Guitarist John Warren ^plays the solo Allemande, a running dance in 4/4 beginning with an upbeat before digging into an earthy blues ^. Double bassist Mike Hart (the band use an acoustic double bass in place of a bass guitar), switches to bowing the strings for part of the track here. The blues section offers something of a contrast to the rest of the album, the flute improvisation being similar to Steel Mill's "Green eyed god".

"Allegro" is the only non-Bach inspired piece on the first side, the track being based on Handel's "Harpsichord suite no. 7". The classical guitarists alternate solos before Schwarcz moves into a harmonica improvisation. This section has even more of a blues feel than the previous track, the descending bass line offering much more of rock beat.

Side one closes with Richard Hartley's "Bouree" taken from Bach's "Second English suite". The medieval atmosphere of the track emphasises the fact that Bach composed the suite ^ for the English ^. The sleeve notes state that ^the theme is stated on recorder and guitar, before the bass leads into a rhythmically intriguing prelude to a 24-bar improvisation in the relative minor ^.

^The excursions of the first side act as a preparation for the more intense explorations of the second ^. Side two of the album is occupied entirely by "Legend of Chile Harold" composed by Richard Hartley. The piece is based on the poetic works of Lord Byron, and is ^a thinly veiled indictment on the world of the time^.

The suite is in five named sections, each having a sub-title describing the part of Childe Harold's journey being depicted by the track. For example "Approach of Judgement" is described as ^Sure doom advances, half remembered dances haunt on^.

Musically, the piece opens with heavy cello, not unlike some of ELO's early work, with phased strings and a dramatic feel. The extra strings added to the suite offer a slightly more classical feel, although the piece is still largely improvisational, with a jazz rock basis. The "Dance of destruction" section reflects ^The subtlety of man's inhumanity passed off as glory^, It has ^an 8 bar theme broken by a solitary 7 bar passage, and swings into a baroque vein gypsy dance^. As the piece develops, Schwarcz adds one of his fine lengthy flute improvisations, something he would do to fine effect again on the following "Autumn grass" album. Towards the end of the suite, the band experiment with electronic sounds and effects, the structure almost disappearing completely before being brought back together for a brief symphonic conclusion.

Why Continuum never gained the recognition the deserved is a matter for conjecture. Perhaps it was because they took themselves just a little too seriously, or maybe they were simply ahead of their time. Whatever the reasons, their debut album shows them to be highly talented performers, who were not afraid to venture beyond the confines of traditional rock and classical music, resulting in a couple of fine but criminally ignored albums.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars This band is an Unidentified Flying Group, that is all too forgotten. This extremely eclectic debut is only partly in the rock realm, but its folk, classical, pre-classical, blues, jazz and avant-garde influences is making it one of the hardest album to classify. This international quartet founded by Hungarian wind and acoustic guitar player Yoel Schwarcz, but based in Netherlands and England, certainly took a rather bold turn in reworking the classics, like Ekseption and Trace and much later Sky would, but here the interpretation are bold, daring, dazzling and inventive, mostly because the group built on the piece (Bach and Handel mostly) instead of adapting and electrifying them. Continuum even takes the risk of re-working Bourée and as you would've guessed, it does not match Tull's, but does stand on its own.

If the first side is somewhat conventional and presents jazz, blues and folk workouts from Bach pieces and as said above is rather excellent, but stays partly conventional, the second side is much more adventurous and the group enters the atonal and dissonant realms, using scales and an advanced use string quintet that are rather unfamiliar to the mainstream crowds.

The side-long suite Legend Of Childe Harold (written by Richard Hartley) where the voyage of Childe Harold and its tribulations and misadventures are described musically. Ranging from a pedestrian blues with jazzy solos ala early-Tull (Release) to the almost medieval and dissonant intro (Revelate) to the almost-dronal semi-medieval and semi- contemporary Judgment Approach, with the finale's frankly dissonant intro, this suite was quite an achievement for the year of recording. I wouldn't be surprised if Art Zoyd and Univers Zero heard this album's finale.

Clearly this album is the resultant of hundreds of influences, but it is safe to bet many progressive musicians also heard and inspired themselves from this album. This album is much more than a curiosity, it is a must hear for classical-loving progheads.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A different band formed in London in late-60's,CONTINUUM was an idea of guitarist/flutist Yoel Schwarz,a musician from Hungary,who performed around the same time at clubs in Amsterdam.His meeting with classical guitarist John Warren was the turning point for Yoel to form this experimental group.The first album is said to be recorded at Morgan Studios in London,featuring also Mike Hart on bass and Dick Wildman on drums.

Released finally in 1970 on RCA Label,''Continuum'' blends classical guitars with a baroque feeling and an improvisational jazzy mood.Side A consists of four tracks,all written by Schwarz,which are actually interpretations of works by Bach and Handel.While the tracks are structurally ok,the middle-parts of them contain improvisational flutes,harmonica soloing and some bluesy guitars also to support the delicate classical guitars and the deep double bass.The result is definitely way too experimental and different from anything I've heard by bands of the same period.Stepping to side B we find a 20 min. written by Richard Hartley,who appears as a pianist on the second album of the band (1971,''Autumn grass'',also on RCA).Entitled ''Legend of Childe Harold'',this suite is split in five parts and it is mainly based on classical strings,guitars and wind instruments.However, some good improvisational passages headed by flutes and bass are also present,while the overall atmosphere is closer to avant/prog and chamber music.For fans of dark instrumental music,this will be a very good listening.''Continuum'' won't be ever everybody's taste and ceretainly not mine.The album is highly experimental (especially its suite) and totally unique in its sound and atmosphere and I would recommend it mostly to fans of classical music and avant/prog.For the mass of progressive rock fans,this won't add anything charming in your collection.

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