Marker Starling + Eliza Niemi
Two artists on tour from Canada
+ Eliza Niemi
Tuesday 7th May 2024
The New Adelphi Club
£7 Advance on this page
Toronto troubadour Chris A. Cummings (Marker Starling, formerly Mantler) has been playing Melancholy Party Jams since 1999. A solo performer for many years, his preferred weapons were a Wurltizer electric piano and an early pre-programmed drum machine. More recently he has been supported by a Toronto-based band consisting of Jay Anderson (drums), Matt McLaren (bass) and Andy Scott (guitar and keyboards). In the UK and Europe he has played extensively with Euan Rodger (drums), Joe Carvell (bass) and Andy Whitehead (guitar).
After a long association with Germany’s Tomlab label, who released the second, third and fourth Mantler records (SADISFACTION, LANDAU and MONODY), Cummings began working with UK-based Tin Angel Records in 2010. With Tin Angel, Marker Starling has released 4 albums since 2015 – the acclaimed ROSY MAZE (praised by Matthew Horton in the NME for its “timeless quality”), solo all-covers record I’M WILLING (2016), the self-retrospective ANCHORS AND AMPERSANDS (2017), and an all-originals solo record TRUST AN AMATEUR (2018). Cummings’ ninth record HIGH JANUARY, recorded in the UK and produced by Sean O’Hagan (The High Llamas, Stereolab) was released in April 2020.
Cummings has collaborated with the German band Von Spar, contributing vocals and lyrics to their albums STREETLIFE (Italic, 2014) and UNDER PRESSURE (Bureau B, 2019). His song “Deep Background” was recorded by Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier for her Source Ensemble record FIND ME FINDING YOU (Drag City, 2017). His 2010 song “In Stride” was included in DJ Koze’s DJ-Kicks compilation on !K7 Records in 2015. He has opened for Stereolab, The Books, Destroyer, Yo La Tengo, Gary Wilson and Sandro Perri, and also plays in the bands Matias, Hank and The Canadian Romantic. His music is also released on 7e.p. Records in Japan, where he has toured twice, and where he embodied the singing voice of the character Desmond in the popular anime CAROLE AND TUESDAY
+ Eliza Niemi
Our earliest exposures to music can often be the most formative. For Toronto-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Eliza Niemi, that influence came from her Dad who taught her the basics of bass and guitar at home. These childhood experiences of playing music together by ear fostered the sense of playfulness that she’s approached her craft with ever since. They also instilled an ethic in her creative work that prioritizes making music with friends and loved ones.
Those honed guitar —and later piano, cello and vocal— skills make Eliza an ideal collaborator: starting in Halifax’s rich music scene with the mid-2010s experimental pop groups New Love Underground and Mauno, and later in her role supporting artists Le Ren, Quaker Parents and Evan J. Cartwright. Through the rhythms of touring and the brilliant spark that’s shared in musical exchange, Eliza found and developed connections across Canada’s DIY music communities. These collaborative moments fuel her creative practice, whether playing solo, in an ensemble or releasing others’ music as the founder of her own label, Vain Mina Records.
Connection and collaboration lives in the intimacy of her albums, starting with 2019’s Vinegar, an understated set of songs for cello, keyboard and voice that wander with a comforting grace. 2020’s Glass furthered Eliza’s reputation for writing songs that are boundless and experimental without ever being alienating. There’s an open, inviting quality throughout the record, apparent from the close-miked instruments, to her softly sung and affable lyrics that unfold like a conversation with a good friend.
Her latest album, Staying Mellow Blows, furthers these ideas and aesthetics to a staggering degree, retaining the candor, humor and emotional humility she’s known for, while letting the vast number of supporting musicians shape each song with their own emotionally resonant performances. The result feels whimsical and inspired, and is the sound of an artist flourishing.