Finnish button-chromatic accordeonist Teija Niku and Minnesota Finnish violinist Sara Pajunen are well matched, extremely elegant, rich-toned players. With nothing to prove in skill terms, they make music, both trad and original, that, while strongly Finnish, is given a wider perspective and rationale by the transatlantic connection.
fRoots Magazine Issue 422
Accordionist Teija Niku's second solo album in all its beauty and on the other hand playfulness hits the bull's eye... Niku is a composer with an excellent sence of melody, but on Memento she turns out to be very inventive with instrumentations as well.
Mari Koppinen, Helsingin Sanomat 13.04.2017
Of the instrumental tracks, Flypolska and Suvivirsi hit the melancholic corner, at least I am sensing some wistful cycle of life in the song. Everything starts and everything ends, with mandolin and banjo tinkling softly, horns filling the gaps and all of this resulting in sort of a melancholic black and white Kaurismäki scene in front of you.
Mika Roth, desibeli.net 20.03.2017
Teija Niku's four compositions in a row especially surprise me. 'The Last Row' and *March Sun' are incredibly fine pair... Also the 'April Rain' and the opening track 'Dusch' are convincing, first mentioned could even turn into a charming popular song, the accordion solo is already in place. Teija Niku - you have a new admirer.
Retrokki blog, 16.07.2016
Fiddle, accordion and vocals CDs aren’t rare on the in-pile, but this one has that extra, elusive appeal, its lightness of touch and melodiousness of repertoire matching the skill of Finnish accordionist-singer Teija Niku and Minneapolis Finn fiddler Sara Pajunen.
Andrew Cronshaw, fRoots issue 378 Dec 2014
With her debut release, Teija Niku brings to the table a unique and captivating offering: virtuosic Balkan hoedown executed with sensitivity and subtlety...
Pirkko Kotirinta, Helsingin Sanomat 12.2.2011
Pajunen and Niku are clearly passionate about negotiating their shared personal and cultural histories. This passion and integrity shines through on Ameriikan laulu, with deeply felt arrangements demonstrating high-quality musicianship.
Merly Driver, Songlines Magazine #145
Finland has become something of a nexus for accordeon skill, creativity and subtlety. Teija Niku is another shining example. Her second solo album, Memento, transcends technical accomplishment or pose to sail serenely on the waters of real music-making...
Andrew Cronshaw, fRoots June 2017
Memento as an album offers not only surprises but also pleasant listening experiences. With her music Teija Niku, despite of subtle exotic breezes, comes very close to Finnish people celebrating their anniversary.
Veli-Matti Henttonen, Salon Seudun Sanomat 22.04.2017
The essence of Memento is pretty intimate with Niku, her accordion and voice. Occasionally she embraces wider worlds with the help of brass and strings. Atmospherically it's more about open widths and clear Nordic breezes rather than strong emotions or wild temperament, but I like especially Niku's Balkan interpretations, where music swirls around and is characterized by ease such as on the opening track 'Limp'.
Tove Djupsjöbacka, HBL April 2017
'Maaliskuun aurinko' (March Sun) is one of those heaven-sent accordion melodies (written by Niku) that you feel must have been around forever, magically played and with the piano perfectly voiced, supremely supportive.
Fiona Talkington, Songlines 125 / maaliskuu 2017
Don’t miss the stately “Juottomarssi,” a march traditionally played during the drink service at weddings; or Niku’s meditative polska “Aamupolska.” Also very lovely is the final track, “Day & Night,” a meditative piece that reflects the nature of their musical relationship as they live on opposite sides of the globe.
Gary Whitehouse, Sleeping Hedgedog blog 2014
It is immediately audible that Niku has been a longtime and serious student of Balkan music. Her phrasing is natural, her playing smooth, and she makes also the unusual time signatures sound easy. Her speed is astounding, and the combination of original compositions and traditional repertoire works well.
Tove Djupsjöbacka, HBL 16.2.2011
Memento grows into a temptingly thoughtful set of tradition, experimentation and feeling. Of Teija Niku's compositions meandering Limp and calmly developing Memento show just how diversely one can make us of the accordion.
Juha Seitz, Ilkka/Pohjalainen 21.03.2017
Thanks to Niku's accurate instinct for arranging, Memento is like a subtle collection of short stories, which musical stories carry and last individually too.
Pentti Ronkanen, suomijazz.com 20.3.2017
The simple summary on this is that 'Memento' is gorgeous musical writing, beautifully performed by a collection of musicians who clearly possess the most natural of skills, and love what they do - I love the brass playing in particular throughout. And Teija Niku's accordion playing demonstrates a staggering versatility and her overall musical arrangements are both charming and clever.
Nordic Music Review, April 2017
Aallotar is a new, interesting duo, in which Finnish Teija Niku and American-Finnish Sara Pajunen play the accordion and sing in Finnish and English. The golden oldies of Finnish tradition have become adequately unruly as they’ve flown overseas, and found new aspects both in the song material and the soundscapes. The duo’s unpolished DIY attitude makes their debut, In Transit, a rough diamond – in just the right way. It will be great to see where this adaptable duo is headed.
Amanda Kauranne FMQ 2/2014, Translation: Jonathan Mander
Odd time-signatures and detail-rich arrangements cascade with zeal, the likes of which one rarely encounters. A former student of Maria Kalaniemi and Kimmo Pohjonen, Niku positively revels in her playing. Finsko Padjusko is already a cult classic.
Juha Seitz, Pohjalainen 7.2.2011
Finsko Pajdusko includes Niku's compositions and traditional material from the Balkans. Niku clearly has composing skills and her original tunes definitely belong to the elite on this album.
Kimmo Nevalainen, Karjalainen 10.3.2011