Single by Massive Attack
from the album Protection
Released 20 March 1995
Format CD, 12"
Recorded 1994
Genre Trip hop
Length 5:21
Label Virgin Records
Writer(s) Vowles/Del Naja/Marshall/Tricky/Norfolk/Locke
Producer(s) Massive Attack and Nellee Hooper
Massive Attack singles chronology

"Karmacoma" is a single by British trip hop collective Massive Attack, released as a third and final single from their second album Protection on 20 March 1995. It is a rap featuring vocals from band members 3D and Tricky. Tricky also recorded his own version of "Karmacoma", renamed "Overcome" for his debut studio album, Maxinquaye.

Massive Attack themselves recorded a second version of the song (without Tricky) renamed "Fake The Aroma" on "The Help Album", a compilation album for the charity War Child.


The melodic refrain (e.g. 0:54) is taken from the opera Prince Igor by Russian composer Alexander Borodin, and also includes a sample of Tuvan throat singing used by The KLF in "Dream Time in Lake Jackson". The bass line sample featured is the same bass line used by Serge Gainsbourg in the song "Melody" from his 1971 album Histoire de Melody Nelson. The "Napoli Trip Mix", by Italian band Almamegretta, of the song contains samples from Roberto Paci Dalò's record "Napoli", released in 1993. The Startled Insects wrote the music for this track (Tim Norfolk and Bob Locke)


Tricky remade "Karmacoma" for his 1995 debut album Maxinquaye under the title "Overcome", enlisting Martina Topley-Bird to sing his lyrics and incorporating a sample of Shakespears Sister's 1992 song "Moonchild".[1] David Bennun from The Quietus later called his version "a thick, unquiet fever dream - and an almost cubist vision of a moment in time that encompasses within the same frame a couple walking through quiet suburbs as the Gulf War rages three thousand miles away".[2] In an interview for Melody Maker, Tricky was asked about the sexual nature of the song and other material on Maxinquaye, to which he responded:

No, no, not at all. Even the parts that are about sex ain't about sex. Like in Overcome: ‘You and I walking through the suburbs / We're not exactly lovers’. Then it goes, ‘And then you wait / For the next Kuwait’. You could be walking down the street with your girlfriend, and at the same moment Kuwait is getting bombed. It's to do with a moment in time. I'm trying to be three dimensional. It's about the world. I suppose there is a lot of sex and violence in the world. We're like - Martina, what's that word - sociologists? Is that a word? We're documentarians. That's what we do. We document the situations around us. Violence. Death. Sex. Money. Deviousness.[3]

According to AllMusic critic Amy Hanson, the intensely "breathless and claustrophobic" song is still one of trip hop's best works: "Featuring Martina Topley-Bird's clear, otherworldly vocals, the song is constructed around a thrumming slow, low heartbeat bass beat and looped catch of breath that becomes earnest yearning -- an act of foreplay which frames the lyrics, 'don't want to be on top of your list, and never been properly kissed.'"[1]

Track listing

  1. "Karmacoma" – 5:21
  2. "Karmacoma" (Bumper Ball Dub) – 6:01
  3. "Karmacoma" (The Napoli Trip Mix) – 6:10
  4. "Karmacoma" (Portishead Experience Mix) – 4:03
  5. "Karmacoma" (Ventom Dub Special) – 6:08
  6. "Karmacoma" (UNKLE Situation Mix) – 5:42


  1. 1 2 Hanson, Amy. "Overcome - Tricky". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  2. Bennun, David (20 February 2015). "20 Years On: Tricky's Maxinquaye Revisited". The Quietus. Archived from the original on 24 February 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  3. Bennun, David (1995). "Tricky". Melody Maker. London. Retrieved 24 February 2016.

External links

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