Ääniä Records released accordionist Teija Niku’s third solo album ‘Hetkessä’ on June 12, 2019. In the Finnish language, ‘hetkessä’ has two somewhat contrasting definitions: ‘to be in the moment’ and ‘happening in seconds’. These meanings characterize both Niku’s artistic persona and her working methods, which intermixed to create this unique album.
‘Hetkessä’ was born purely out of an artist’s personal need to create new music without deadlines or externally dictated terms, instead relying strongly on intuition. Experimenting with a wide range of registers, dynamics, technical possibilities and spontaneous improvisations, the inspiration for this new music was formed. At the center of the resulting material lies the accordion’s expressive power combined with Niku’s musical idiom.
The majority of the album’s material was composed and arranged by Niku in autumn 2018. With the addition of a few solo versions of earlier compositions, she self-recorded the completed album at her studio in Töölö, Helsinki.
Teija Niku’s earlier work in ensembles include the Polka Chicks, Karuna, Teija Niku & Grupa Balkan, Aallotar and Teija Niku Kvartetti. Besides her performance career, Niku teaches at the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department and works as the Artistic Director of Haapavesi Folk Music Festival.
Summer 2019 ‘Hetkessä’ gigs
28 June Haapavesi Folk Music Festival
6 July Kihaus Folk
12-13 July Kaustinen Folk Music Festival
1. Hetki 03:17
2. Kotva 03:05
3. Salakavala 02:53
4. Tuntu 02:39
5. Roihu 05:36
6. Syvyydessä 04:32
7. Vuoden ensimmäinen päivä 02:39
8. Lento 03:04
9. Aika 03:31
10. Peshekee 04:36
11. Pohjatuuli 07:03
A tune in the moment, highlighting the deep resonation of my accordion’s bassoon register.
Inspiration for this piece came from the 7/8 beat and the many beloved Macedonian folk songs I’ve played in the past. In Finland ‘kotva’ is another word for ‘moment’, in the Balkans it means ‘anchor’.
Sa-la-ka-va-la is a good word for rhythmically dividing a 5/8 time signature, and is also appropriate for the nature of this insidiously technical tune!
When you have a freshly tuned accordion in your hands, it’s lovely to float around with the sensation of perfectly resonating intervals.
This is a set of a slowly flickering minuet and a blazing polska that I dedicate to the little red sauna cottage in Roihuvuori (Blaze Hill), Helsinki, that served as my rehearsal space from 2015 to 2018.
An improvisation in the moment, built entirely around the deepest note of my accordion’s treble side.
7. Vuoden ensimmäinen päivä
My first day of 2019 started out with a polska, both reflecting something old and awaiting something new.
A Finnish-French-Slavic type of jazz waltz that was born out of my frustration learning a complicated musette waltz from sheet music.
The highest bass register of my accordion was the impetus for this little melody.
This tango, originally composed for accordion, string ensemble and soprano, was a commissioned work for ‘Beethoven and Banjos’ festival in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA. It is dedicated to the Peshekee river crossing the area, but since I didn’t have a chance to visit the river beforehand in search of inspiration, I drew from folk songs, Unto Mononen and Astor Piazzolla.
This waltz is one of the many melodies born in the earlier mentioned sauna cottage. A rough wind around the building on a dark winter night helped me finish it. On this album the accordion bellow gets to masquerade as the storm’s ambience.
Teija Niku: accordion, vocals
All music composed, arranged and produced by Teija Niku
Recorded by Teija Niku at Studio Thöle
Mixed by Kimpi Huisman at Studio Thöle
Mastered by Jaakko Viitalähde at Virtalähde Mastering
Cover photos by Antti Kokkola
Cover design by Paula Susitaival
The making of this album was financially supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike) and The Finnish Music Foundation (MES).
Thank you Kimpi for all of your technical and psychological support during this project.