August 13 — “Getting Nowhere” by Nanang Tatang

Elizabeth Mitchell and Daniel Littleton (Nanang Tatang)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Getting Nowhere” by Nanang Tatang (2003, from the album Muki).

Nanang Tatang was a side project of the married couple of Elizabeth Mitchell and Daniel Littleton, who were better known as the core of the Brooklyn indie-folk/rock group Ida. They wanted to experiment with some sounds that “weren’t quite right for Ida”, and the end result was the twelve songs on that made Muki. It was the only record that they released under that name.

The band name is Tagalog, and it means something very close to “Mommy and Daddy”. I think the words “nanang” and “tatang” are meant to refer to any elder female and male, respectively. At least that’s what my quick research tells me.

I can’t be sure, but I think the whole thing got started when Littleton built his own drum machine. It’s used a lot on this album. I wouldn’t say that the songs sound a lot different from Ida, but those electronic elements are definitely non-Ida.

Although Mitchell and Littleton were the core of Ida, they definitely couldn’t have done any of it without their frequent collaborators. Namely, bassist/vocalist Karla Schickele. They did it all themselves as Nanang Tatang. Actually, Littleton did it all. Whereas Mitchell normally would have played guitar, piano, and sung in Ida, her only role in Nanang Tatang was vocals. The credits list Littleton as “voice, piano, harmonium, guitars, beats, wurlitzer, viola, organ, bass, sounds”. Their daughter, Storey, is credited with “heartbeat”.

Without any further ado, here’s today’s song:

“Getting Nowhere” by Nanang Tatang

One of the best things about Ida was always the phenomenal harmonies that Mitchell and Littleton produced. On this song, they don’t get to that until 3:34, when they overlap the same line in the chorus:

Always looking backward
Just to catch a gaze
Gaze on you

On top of Littleton’s lush piano track, it’s a really special thing.

Because I’ve been doing this when the connection can be made, we’ll play a very quick game of “six degrees of Jenny Toomey”. Daniel Littleton of Ida and Nanang Tatang was in Liquorice with Jenny Toomey. One degree. Last week, I got sloppy and made a careless mistake when I was connecting Velocity Girl to Jenny Toomey in two degrees. I named the wrong Jenny Toomey side project, wrongly saying that Mark Robinson was in Liquorice. Of course I meant to write that he was in Grenadine. It still worked in two degrees, but I felt like an ass after my slip-up was brought to my attention.

Muki was recorded in the Littleton/Mitchell home by His Name is Alive mastermind Warren Defever. It was released on the now defunct label Tiger Style Records.

You can get a copy of Muki in the amazon store here.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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