The Damage Is Done comprises the full set recorded at Krakow’s Alchemia on March 16th, 2008. To quote Hemingway, this music seems to represent a symbol for the sound and the fury. Incidentally, this was also the name behind the Holyfield-Tyson rematch in 1997, widely known as the “bite fight” — and indeed Tysonesque shades are noticeable in the weird mixture of rage and frailty expressed by Peter Brotzmann throughout the session, in which he plays alto and tenor sax, tarogato and b-flat clarinet with customary stray-dog facility. The continuous superimposition between the German’s moon-raking corrosions and unrighteous blasphemies and McPhee’s slightly more regulated approach (not less emotional, we should add) on trumpet and alto causes the head to literally buzz at times, in the vain attempt of finding sketches that could remotely resemble a basic scheme or a regular sequence of notes. But no, it’s all guts and blood, and only when the waters calm down a little we can see that beyond those intoxicated views lies a brace of colossal hearts with wonderful moments, silence even peeking at us for a few seconds.
Kessler and Zerang are as creatively active as you might expect, not limiting themselves to lesser roles. The bassist sounds imperturbable yet ever open to diverse solutions to enhance and balance the weight of a difficult combination of talents. The drummer is a refined bohemian of alternative drumming, constantly searching for the right colors — be it a peculiar roll, or a different consecutiveness of accents on his instrument — to improve an already vivid sonic picture.
This is a real improvising group striving for something that is probably unachievable. There are days in which the sky is grey, the rain is cold, the money is (as always) scarce and one wonders why in the world we’re supposed to be happy for anything. It is in that kind of circumstance that a record like this — make that two records, since it is a double — provides at least part of the answers and a veritable injection of energy to try and snatch another day from the jaws of cheapness.