Now That’s A Remix

Bumper Ball Dub (Karmacoma) – Mad Professor from Massive Attack v. Mad Professor / No Protection

As a remixer, if you’re presented with a song that’s already really good, there’s probably some trepidation about taking that one as a project.  There’s a very good chance you’re not going to live up to the original with its fans, and with something that’s good already why mess with it.  You probably have to try to do something radical to try and get people to reexamine their conception of song, which I usually find pretty bad (I’m looking in the general direction of anyone remixing Radiohead).

In the case of Mad Professor’s remix of Massive Attack’s Karmacoma, a standout from Attack’s excellent album Protection, he doesn’t go for a remake, he goes for an addition.  As in, let’s take this spacy, dubbed-out track and let’s add on to that.  Let’s make it spacier, let’s make it dubbier, way dubbier.  Now this probably wasn’t a stretch for Mad Professor, as the London by way of Guyana producer is an heir to the dub throne of pioneers like Lee Perry and King Tubby.  According to the little I could find about the record online, Massive Attack approached the Professor to remix a track, which then eventually morphed into asking him to remix the entire album, which he did (more or less, one album track and a live track from the original aren’t on the remix).  This seems plausible, especially since the trip-hop of Massive Attack seems right in the wheelhouse for a dub producer to tackle.  This remix album has got to be one of the best all-time, as every single one of the eight tracks he takes on is entirely listenable and as a whole the album is every bit as cohesive as its source material.

With Karmacoma, he doesn’t wast time, taking the existing beat which is already pretty beefy, and giving it that calling-card dub echo that cascades away into nothingness and a more booming bassline.  Stabs of synths, like lasers shooting through space, pierce the layer of bass.  Noticeably missing are Tricky’s lyrics from the original.  While they are key element of why I like the original, they are oddly not missed here.  I get so lost in all the dimensions of sound in Mad Professor’s version that lyrics would take away from that feeling.


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