Great Unknowns: Tools of Romance and Dark Facade (Produced by Iain Burgess)!

As a rabid crate digger ever on the lookout for obscure or long-buried Chicago-centric releases, we have two criteria that rarely intersect: a) anything synth-pop, and b) anything produced by Iain Burgess.

While Burgess is primarily known as the sonic architect of the "Chicago sound" that came to define the city's burgeoning punk scene led by Big Black, Naked Raygun, the Effigies, and others, what's less known is that in 1985, Burgess was a resident engineer at Chicago Recording Company who had a penchant for working out rock-bottom deals for local bands if they could work their schedule around the studio's regular stream of jingle sessions and major album projects.

One such band was DeKalb, IL new wave combo Tools Of Romance, whose painfully brief four-tune EP hints at greater things to come, but proved to be the band's only release. If you dig Midge Ure-era Ultravox or early Cure, you can't go wrong with Tools of Romance.

Hailing from Milwaukee, Dark Facade also released a four-song Burgess-produced EP in 1985. Singer Steven Nodine's vocals recall Stan Ridgway, Danny Elfman, and Skafish, giving songs like "Turn" and "You Make The World Kneel Down" a jittery intensity that builds to one throbbing chorus after another.

The band would tour Germany after the release of Kunst before promptly disbanding in 1986. Truth be told, the band's previous 7" single (not produced by Burgess) is a more focused blast of Joy Division-influenced post-punk that should have made a bigger splash.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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