Have a listen to some of our samples. While you do, please scroll down and read about us; REVIEWS, MAJOR INFLUENCES & STYLE comments, BIOS, and answers to FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. We hope you love our material, and please keep in mind that our CD has a 12-panel 4-color insert that illustrates all of the pertinent elements of our big rock opera, including original artwork (by me, Bart), lyrics, and liner notes that explain every part of the opera's narrative. Get your own copy TODAY!
Divine In Sight, as you might guess from the name, is a Christian Progressive Rock band, and in 2001 they released an album called SORROW & PROMISE. It is mostly a rock opera but with a couple of other tunes not directly related to the opera. I have to admit it ... I wanted to hate this album. In spite of having once been in a Christian Progressive Rock band myself at one time, most of the stuff I've heard that calls itself Christian prog has been pretty lame; watered down prog pop at best, and frequently poorly produced, relying on the "Christian charity" of their audiences to forgive their weaknesses. Add to that the fact that my personal spiritual leanings no longer tilt in the direction of Christianity and I was fully prepared to really dislike SORROW & PROMISE. But, it was not to be ... far from hating this album, I must say it's one of the best progressive albums I've heard so far in 2001...
Musically, the closest overall band I might compare them to would be Rush, with their melodic yet metallic electric guitar interspersed and sometimes intertwined with acoustic guitars, plus their reliance on "in-yer-face" harmonic and counterpoint bass lines. The keyboards and drums are competent, but not the prime ingredients in this music; those are the guitars and bass, and to a lesser extent the vocals. Bass player Jonathan Dexter is one of the finest bassists I've ever heard, with his Geddy Lee type fingering and Chris Squire Rickenbacker sound. He doesn't just sit in the background playing a boomy sustained tonic, the bass is equalized to accentuate the high end making the pitches easier to hear. (He also uses a 5-string Rickenbacker with an extra high "C" string at the top to play more in the guitar sonic spectrum). There are many places on the album where the bass is obviously the predominant instrument. Jonathan's bass figures frequently remind me of Chris Squire's (circa Relayer) also.
Bart Boge's guitars, songwriting and production are highly reminiscent of Queen, with vocals overdubbed to make huge chorales, and guitar sound and licks reminiscent of Brian May's. But, once again reminding of Rush, I sometimes think of Alex Lifeson as well, especially for some of the acoustic guitar parts. The unusually "crunchy" metal guitar in the "Overture", where all the themes of the rock opera are previewed, is fantastic, it gives me chills every time I hear it. From the screams of lost souls falling "Into the Abyss" to the trudging "March of the Damned", lots of sound effects pervade this production, making it bombastic, pretentious and self-important ... nothing wrong with that as long as they have the chops to pull it off, and these gents certainly do.
In case you haven't figured it out yet, I highly recommend this CD. If you miss this one, you'll be missing out on a lot. I don't actually think your soul would be in peril if you didn't buy this CD, but ... hey, what do I know? Maybe you should go to the Divine In Sight web site and order a copy ... just to be on the safe side. Amen, Brother!
Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock
As far as I am concerned, the "Spiritual Progressive Art Rock Opera" that is SORROW & PROMISE surely deserves to take its place along side other classic concept albums such as Pink Floyd's The Wall and Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, even if on a smaller scale. It is a deep concept, and fully illustrated through the 11 movements or sections that make up S&P. I must say, that as a writer and producer myself, I am awestruck by such an incredible and elaborate production. There were many ways that DIS could have dropped the ball, by leaving out pieces of the puzzle or failing to fully communicate either the emotion or the depth of the story. But they pulled it off in its entirety, leaving me with no question about either the story or its conclusion. I simply cannot express how impressive I find this entire production...
Guitarist/Vocalist for AMERICA GOMORRAH
Lots of bands claim musical trendy or obscure influences, hoping for credibility by association. But few ever produce music that approach the quality of those influences, much less transcend them. Divine In Sight not only transcends, they are in a league all their own spearheaded by a true visionary, Bartholomew Boge, vocalist/guitarist/songwriter for the band. SORROW & PROMISE delivers a riveting musical narrative in this spiritual progressive rock opera of evil, betrayal, corruption, and greed. Boge embraces a plaintive, near ambient sound structure while occasionally unleashing torrid spasms of blinding guitar runs with nail biting suspense and unexpected twists. Alternating between gentle, haunting lyricism and musical exploration, Divine In Sight engages in instrumental warfare like no other. SORROW & PROMISE is a superbly crafted, provocative stunner.
The Global Muse
MAJOR INFLUENCES & STYLE:
CLOSE TO THE EDGE, Yes: Considered by many to be the quintessential progressive rock album, Close to the Edge is an amazing display of technical instrumental mastery and brilliantly creative arrangement, with a mystical transcendent quality that separates great progressive rock from the legions of overplaying, sterile and intentionally obtuse bands of the genre. Rarely is prog as expansive, yet as tight and cohesive as Close to the Edge, and this quality, along with the nearly spiritual nature of its emotional tone can be found in our project.
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, Pink Floyd: What makes this album one of the best ever is its visionary ambience. Sound effects are used extensively to add "visual" clues to the intent of the songs, as well as to unify the work. They are used in much the same way motifs are used in classical music; to introduce themes, to bring them back later, to use them to illustrate relationships, and for summary purposes. SORROW & PROMISE featured sound effects extensively to achieve the same ends.
HEMISPHERES, Rush: Arguably their greatest achievement, Hemispheres demonstrates a brilliant use of recurring themes in a hard rock context. The interplay between the instruments and the vocal line, while often very complex, always fits the direct need of the song and is always accessible. Nothing "prog" is done for the sake of being "prog", but rather always serves the overarching vision of the album concept. This album also serves as the best example of the kind of progressive rock which uses driving, distorted rhythm guitar as its main melody instrument. These are the qualities which we hope to have captured in our arrangements of the SORROW & PROMISE material.
QUEEN II, SHEER HEART ATTACK, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, A DAY AT THE RACES, Queen: During the span of these four albums, Queen exhibited a daring amount of musical creativity. Queen II was nearly a progressive album, and all of these have progressive moments in them. Melody lines and chord changes were brilliantly written, lead vocals were confidently and engagingly sung, and the vocal harmonies are without peer in the world of rock music. These qualities gave Queen an appeal strong enough to make "Bohemian Rhapsody" one of the oddest yet most universally popular singles in rock music history. In addition to these characteristics (largely the contribution of Freddy Mercury), the singing, powerful, yet sweet guitar tone and perfect-for-the-song lead work of Brian May also played a huge role in the band's success. These characteristics can be found in SORROW & PROMISE in abundance, and will probably serve as the bridge points to connect our work to the greater Christian "non-prog" world.
TOMMY, The Who: Although not as large an influence as some of the others, Tommy deserves mention for a few very good reasons: a) it was one of the first and most successful "rock operas," b) it featured very clever songwriting and arrangement, c) the performance included very busy bass lines; overplayed drums, some off-pitch vocals, and simple, less-than-perfect guitar work, and d) the criticisms of c) didn't prevent Tommy from selling millions and becoming one of the most important albums in rock history. The vision, courage, and songwriting strength of Tommy is evidenced in SORROW & PROMISE to the best of our ability.
Having mentioned quite specifically the influences we have intentionally drawn upon, it would be good to include some of the qualities we have found to be unique to Divine In Sight. My voice is probably the most obvious place to start. I am truly a lyric tenor and not merely someone attempting to sing like one. There is a naivete, a guileless kind of honesty to my voice which I think is effective in communicating emotionally to our audience, and there are no artificial affectations to it to make it hip or novel in the pop world. Jonathan's 5-string Rick bass tone is a unique blend of low register Rick growl and sweet, clean, P-Bass high register sound. The melodic interplay between my voice and Jonathan's Rick is the primary sonic uniqueness to our band. Dark imagery contrasted by an overcoming optimism, faith and hope is the primary conceptual quality to our music.
BART BOGE is the impossibly high-voiced lead singer and guitarist for divine * in * sight. His innocent and unaffected lead vocal style and closely-voiced harmony arrangements are distinctive characteristics of the band's sound, as is his "woman-tone" fat distorted guitar sound, reminiscent of Carlos Santana or Brian May of Queen.
Bart is the conceptual visionary for divine * in * sight and writes the bulk of the lyrics and basic melodies of the band's material. A graduate of Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin, Bart is married to Megan Marshall, a conductor for the Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. They have a four-year-old daughter, Frances, a black lab mix named "Lawrence" (after Bart and Megan's alma mater), and "Echo," a small black cat who is generally overwhelmed by the bustle of activity in their house.
JONATHAN DEXTER, as bass guitarist for divine * in * sight, is the band's featured instrumentalist, and his technically flawless yet emotional and entirely accessible bass work is the driving force behind the group's musical power. Juggling keyboard and foot pedal duties as well (in true progressive rock form), Jonathan brings fierce musicianship and truly progressive sensibilities into the work of divine * in * sight. The unmistakable growling sound of his 5-string Rickenbacker easily punches through the mix, and fans of over-the-top progressive rock bass will not be disappointed with Jonathan's tone or performances on Sorrow & Promise.
Jonathan is the group's producer, and he co-engineers all the post-production phases of recording. His faith, musicality, passion for live performance and tireless work ethic provide a pragmatic foundation for the group's artistic vision.
FRANK RALLS' drum work with divine * in * sight is an amazing combination of technical virtuosity, solid "pocket" groove, and "for-the-song" sensibilities--a cross between Stuart Copeland of the Police and Neil Peart from Rush.
Living in serene Appleton, WI with his wife Tara and their rapidly expanding family, Frank's contributions to divine * in * sight thus far have been solely in the studio, although one never knows what the future may hold for Frank's role in the band's live efforts!.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q: What was the concept behind the opening track "Black River?"
A (Bart): The idea behind this song came from a book I read by author Winkey Pratney entitled The Thomas Factor. In it he used a metaphor which I was quite impressed by--faith as a river of unknowing. When you enter a life of faith, it is akin to wading in the shallows of a mighty river. You have freedom of mobility, and although you can sense the flow of the current, it does not really exert much force upon you. The deeper you wade in, however, the stronger the pull of the current is. Once you are chest deep, it is all you can do just to hold your ground. If you go in far enough, you'll get swept down river.
Anyway, that was the general idea. Below is a movement-by-movement description of what we were going for, conceptually speaking. This was a "turning point" song in our artistic development, taking us out of the "Rush-clone" category and closer to our own identity as a group.
i. "At the Shore"
I wrote this on a clear summer night while on the shores of Appleton's Fox River. While gazing at the moon's reflection on the cold, black water, I could hear the tinkling sound of wind chimes coming from a house further up river. You can hear this in the intro.
Destiny, calling, mission--our best futures and our willingness to embrace them--are realized through faith. By definition, faith requires trusting in that which we cannot perceive through natural means. In order to find that courageous life God intends for us to live, we must step out in faith into the unknown. God may light our next step, but He seldom reveals the course of the whole journey. This is to lovingly insure that we abide in Him and continue to live by faith.
Here the narrator's voice gingerly enters the river, feeling the first hints of current, of direction. The force is powerful, loving, embracing, and yet still unknowable from the shallow river bank. He moves into deeper water.
This 7/4 groove builds to a dreamy 16 measure bass solo by Jonathan. In our demo it was completely improvised in the studio, one take. I liked it so much that I have insisted that Jon play it the same way during subsequent live performances and on the album.
This is the crucial moment. Hold his ground, fight the powerful flow, resist the pull--or submit to the will of the river's current? Nearly every minister of the Gospel you might know has had to make this decision at some time in his/her life--to leave a conventional career to follow God's call. Even those of us not destined to be pastors, evangelists, or teachers have to decide how we live on this earth--statically or dynamically, naturally or supernaturally.
The single string main riff is a motif from the intro of the song. I guess we were shooting for the melodic intensity of a Yes "Gates of Delirium" with the tight powerful punch of "Natural Science" Rush.
iv. "In the Flow"
Ah, the release. A reprise of "At the Shore," here the narrator submits and is swept into God's Will. Although the song is finished, the journey has just begun--hence the return of the roaring river sound and the haunting guitar volume swells, hinting toward both uncertainty and hope.
Q: What meaning was your instrumental "By Leaps & Bounds" intended to convey?
A (Bart): This was really one of the very first songs Jonathan and I ever wrote together. We both had just left a Rush cover band ("Natural Science") to start writing Christian music together, and the first movement of this song clearly reflects this influence. Jonathan wrote this part around a very frenetic series of bass riffs, and I just held things together in a Grace Under Pressure manner. This first movement is in D minor, the "saddest" key, yet very up-tempo. We ended up adopting a concept behind the whole song--that of the seduction of ensnaring sins. This section conveys the swagger of the unwitting sinner who is still under the delusion that he/she still has control over his/her pet sin.
The second movement came out of Jonathan's brief but intense fascination with the band Primus. Here the sinner's self-possessed air gives way to fear as he/she realizes the extent to which he/she is hopelessly trapped in his/her addictive behavior.
The third and final section was a song I wrote before I ever even met Jonathan. I could never find a decent vocal melody to go over the riffs and changes, so it found its way into the tail of this instrumental! Joyful and exuberant, this last part conveys the relief and transcendent bliss which comes from deliverance and forgiveness.
Despite the dark and weighty intentions, this song is really just a good piece of fun for us live!
Q: The story behind the Sorrow & Promise rock opera is pretty self-explanatory from the lyrics and liner notes on the album, but what was the inspiration behind the whole project? What was the process like?
A (Bart): This is one of those weird, flash of creativity experiences. Here is the story:
A few years back, when the band was living in a house we were renting together, I was searching for a concept worthy of a full-blown album-long work. Jonathan and I kicked a few ideas around, and most of them were stewing on the back burner of my brain for quite a while before the day they all came together...
At the time, I was a bagel baker. I would show up at the shop in the morning and make 150 lb. batches of bagels. The work was monotonous, but my mind could drift while my body went through the motions of placing newly formed bagels on dozens of wax paper-lined trays. One day a coworker named Deanna (something of a "goth" fan) brought in a Siouxie Sioux and the Banshees CD for me to listen to. I hated it--most of the tracks sounded like kitschy B-movie horror-inspired pop songs. One song, however, caught my attention with its haunting, unholy military march rhythms.
Quite suddenly, I caught a vision of Hell--and countless multitudes plunging headlong into it. I knew I had my "big idea" rock opera concept! I spent the next 45 minutes making bagels and fleshing out the idea in my mind. I grabbed some scratch paper and wrote the ideas down as they came. By the time I went home, the entire project was fully developed in a conceptual sense.
Once home, I explained the whole thing to Jonathan, who was intrigued with the idea. For the last several months he had been continuing, in the absence of any solid album concept, to write dozens of very clever bass lines, which I euphemistically referred to as "Jonathan's Bag-O-Riffs." I began the process of listening to the best of them and contemplating ways to graft them into the concept.
I wrote a large portion of the basic vocal melodies and chord changes at the piano instead of on the guitar. I have found that if I write on a guitar alone, my stuff sounds way too conventional and "riffy." Anyway, songs like "March of the Damned," "Viper's Brood," and "Into the Abyss" were based almost entirely on Jonathan's bass lines. In fact, the 7/4 middle section of "Viper's Brood" (one of the best portions of the whole album) was written entirely by Jonathan, save for the "Beatles-esque" vocal harmonies I added over the top of the instruments.
The dark stuff was easy to write, but the praise and worship ending was very tough. Neither of us had ever written a praise song before, and we didn't want it to be sappy. To help me get the right vibe, I listened to our drummer Frank Ralls' church album Holy Ghost Power constantly for several weeks. Frank writes fabulously catchy praise music! I think "Make Me More Like You" ended up sounding pretty decent, all in all, and Frank deserves a large portion of the credit for that.
I recorded all of the distorted guitar parts in my apartment in suburban Chicago. Thank you, Line 6, for making direct recording sound so great--and by giving me a way to complete this project without keeping my wife and daughter up all night! I recorded all of the backing vocal choral parts in the office area at my place of work at the time, ETA (Evangelical Training Association) from 4:00--7:30am, Monday through Thursday--for two months! Trust me, it's not easy to sing above the staff before dawn, but sometimes "ya gotta do what ya gotta do!"
Jonathan recorded all of the bass parts in Texas, but due to a recording glitch he had to retrack EVERYTHING in the studio during transfer and mix down (which for a "one-take-wonder" like Jonathan took less than two days in the studio to do!). Frank's drum tracks were the last instruments recorded. I tracked the lead vocals and a few of the keyboard parts in the same Wisconsin studio. Jonathan oversaw the entire mix down process, and I took care of working with our graphic designer on the packaging.
Q: If you can't really dance to it and the songs are 20 minutes long, just what is progressive rock good for, anyway?
A: A fair question. There are two main purposes one can use progressive rock for; a) taking a thought-provoking yet relaxing journey away from the real world for a while, or b) chewing up a lot of time performing monotonous tasks.
If you have had a long day at work and you don't want to speak to another living soul for at least 30 minutes, use progressive rock as your means of escape. Put in an album and either don a set of high-quality headphones or turn your stereo up loud in a darkened room. Lock the door. Enter into a peaceful rest for your body and soul while still playfully engaging your mind in the music and lyrics of the work. Aaah...that's MUCH better...
..or, use progressive rock to make the time pass quickly and pleasantly when performing the following tasks:
Long drives across the American Midwest or Canada. From Chicago to Toronto is eleven hours of driving--or a mere 20 prog songs! Cool! Twenty songs on pop radio can't even get you to the next town!
When stuck in rush-hour traffic. Arrive to work late but with very little stress--"Man, I couldn't get past a jackknifed semi on the interstate" becomes "Yeah, I was late, but I got to hear all four sides of Tales of Topographic Oceans!"
During late-night cram sessions for college finals or when writing papers the night before they're due. Coffee, incense, and prog-rock are a winning combination for pulling off all-nighters effectively! All three keep you up and alert; the coffee keeps your body from sleeping (and the worse the coffee is, the better--gourmet out, generic in!), the incense stings your eyes enough to keep them open (burn it no more than 12' from your face so that the smoke drifts your way from time to time!), and the prog keeps your brain active and yet calm at the same time!
Yard work and home improvements. Nothing says "I am a hip homeowner" better than cranking Tarkus full blast on a CD boombox while painting your garage! Do you have a five-acre lawn to rake? A Walkman playing A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres back-to-back will make you think it only took you ten minutes to do!
When you have the house all to yourself and want to celebrate your freedom. Your wife left with the kids for a weekend trip to her mother's house, leaving you home alone. This is the perfect time order out for pizza, call over all of your prog-friends, and crank the Thrak album as loud as your subwoofer-enabled home stereo can go!
As useful information when dealing with your company's IT department. Nothing puts you at the head of the line with those guys better than the rapport you build by being "in-the-know" about prog! (Try this: "our server is down--can you help us get it back online? You see, I had a mp3 on the network drive--of a bootleg of Wakeman's original Journey to the Centre of the Earth show...ever heard of it?" or: "This new operating system is as lousy as Trevor Rabin-era Yes was...can you give me a hand with it?" or even: "My computer crashed again...maybe it's my Images and Words screen saver...can you stop by and take a look?")
Thanks for having a listen to our material and reading our info. Buy your own copy of S&P today and help us continue our passionate call!
Check out the artist's website:
1. Black River
2. By Leaps & Bounds
3. Sorrow & Promise: In A Box
4. Sorrow & Promise: Overture
5. Sorrow & Promise: March Of The Damned
6. Sorrow & Promise: Waltz Of The Plastic Dolls
7. Sorrow & Promise: Viper's Brood
8. Sorrow & Promise: Sleep
9. Sorrow & Promise: Into The Abyss
10. Sorrow & Promise: Soul Of Mine
11. Sorrow & Promise: Make Me More Like You