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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 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)

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song premiered in January 1995 and was directed by Jonathan Glazer.


The video shows a hotel corridor and the occupants of the rooms along the corridor. The band are in one of the rooms accompanied by Tricky and an actress. 3D, Daddy G, and Tricky are all dressed in uniforms that say "Texmex" on the front. Mushroom is sitting on the couch with a hand on his stomach, where he apparently has been shot and his shirt is bloody.

The rest of the occupants are shown intermittently throughout the video, and are all engaging in eccentric activities. Some of the scenes cross over from being weird to being supernatural and magical.

  • A man is in the corridor, holding a gun in one hand and a plastic bag with something in it on the other. He's walking backwards and pointing the gun at everything he sees, in a clear state of paranoia and distress. He's sweating and mumbling under his breath, desperately attempting to memorise the room numbers for reasons unknown. At several points he is menaced by two mysterious, identical twin girls (in homage to the 1980 film The Shining), who, at one point, hold up the missing letter 'k' from another tenant's typewriter. And at one point he glimpses a double of himself, pointing a gun at him.
  • A man with long, unkempt hair and beard is sitting in his room (actor Olegar Fedoro resembling Charles Manson), staring directly into the camera and speaking in a dazed manner. "I am a... dangerous person," he announces at one point. Later: "All those guys I killed... nothing personal." (He bears a strong resemblance to the man with the gun from the corridor, although it is unclear if they are actually intended to be the same person.) At the video's end he tells the camera, "I want to be free... and I am free." (These three lines are all Charles Manson quotes.)
  • A man in one of the rooms is covered with oil among cameras and mirrors, apparently performing some sort of bizarre artwork. The oil comes from his navel, apparently, and his finger goes impossibly deep into it to extract the oil.
  • A middle-aged man with a moustache is in a room with two women dressed in red satin robes. He asks "Who's gonna be a bad girl, then?". One of the women answers apathetically, "I am".
  • A man (who resembles the protagonist of Eraserhead) is seen with a typewriter, writing "Karmacoma" over and over again on a sheet of paper, though the letter 'k' does not appear. When the man in the corridor realises the two girls have the 'k', it immediately cuts back to the man with the typewriter, who does not look at another man who appears in his room, burning sheets of paper.
  • A boy watches TV news in which the journalist covers his half face with his hand. The boy repeats what he sees. As this is happening, a woman dressed in campy, old-fashioned clothing is talking on the phone about the boy.
  • A man plays golf in the corridor.
  • A man attempts to drown a miniature copy of himself in a bathtub.


Some of the scenes in the video were censored in some countries and a second copy of it was made that excluded them.

  • The man with the moustache stands on top of a mattress and sticks his tongue out. He has a big pointed piercing in his tongue.
  • The actress that accompanies the band is resting her head on 3D's shoulder. She then lifts her head, looks straight into the camera and blood spills from one of her nostrils.
  • The man with the gun passes along another version of himself, the second man points the gun at the first. Cut to a different angle, where the first man is alone and pointing the gun where the second man was a second before.
  • The man covered in oil is shown with his index finger stuck inside his stomach. He slowly removes it until it's all out, without leaving a wound or a hole of any kind.

Track listing[edit]

  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

External links[edit]