Mutable Artist

Happiness Island

Malcolm regrets a fatal keystroke.

Malcolm regrets a fatal keystroke.


Happiness Island is an idea. It’s a place, but the sort of place you visited once in your dreams and then turned away from. Malcolm first got the idea from his forays into the children’s albums of yesteryear and spent over a year coaxing Gabriel to accept his particular aesthetic vision. Gabriel wrote Don’t Set Your Sights Too High, which was funny and brechtian, but also Boingo the Nihilist Bear, which went too far. Then, one Friday in December of 2000, Gabriel made his way down to New York, and the two of them discussed this project for the last time, and while listening to Malcolm’s extended collection, Gabriel finally began to understand. Malcolm put on his funniest voice and sang, ”People think that chipmunks got high voices, but they don’t,” and Gabriel burst into laughter.

The other musicians arrived the following day, and recording began. No one knew where to start. Then the various players had come down for this began improvising and Gabriel started improvising a song of his own. ”Happiness is wherever you are,” he sang. Their journey had begun.

Two days later, the recording finished, everyone returned to their former lives, and Malcolm began the arduous process of putting the pieces together to make this thing into something approached listenability. The songs had been recorded largely in chronological order, but there were pieces missing, and sounds and exposition to be added. It would be a year before his own journey was finished, and he brought it to Boston, to introduce A Journey to Happiness Island to persons might laugh and coo, or sputter in their confusion, but it existed all the same, and now years later perhaps now he can admit that his failure was a success all along.

Click to see some more pictures from the studio