November 2004

Remo Mondo Snare Drum

Remember director Lee Frost's 1972 attempted escape from the artistic straightjacket of porn? In The Thing With Two Heads, wealthy racist Ray Milland awakes from an operation and sees that his disembodied head has been attached next to that of convict Rosey Grier's, and asks, "Is this some kind of joke?"

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Remo Mondo Snare Drum

Unaware of Remo's mad-doctor experiments, that's exactly how I felt upon first encountering the Mondo snare. But eventually, the hand-drum head grafted onto a snare-drum body began to grow on me.

My immediate reaction was that the drum would be solely appropriate for funk applications, either as a secondary or primary snare. The sound projection is sharp, crisp and penetrating. The 2 1/2 x 12-inch hand-drum FiberSkyn 3 FA head, similar to medium-thickness African goatskin, is connected via black butterfly claws and standard chrome tension rods to six black conga-type lugs on a 4-inch snare shell, creating a very unique 7 1/2 x 12-inch instrument. There are six regular chrome-plated Remo drum set lugs on the common WeatherKing Ambassador bottom, with a normal chrome-plated hoop. The drum also comes in 10- and 14-inch sizes, all with Remo's latest snare strainer. Also included is an absolutely essential long-handled, swivel-head tuning key. You can see how the two seemingly disparate elements have been ingeniously fused together by examining the inside of the shell. Only in my most febrile dreams had I imagined such a mutant hybrid possible.

The Mondo is made of Remo's proprietary Acousticon wood-based shell material and sounds somewhere between birch and maple. The drum was finished in a distinctive "Metalized" brass, giving the appearance and texture of hand-hammered custom engraving. Bronze and nickel/silver finishes are also available.

On gigs, this rimless wonder somehow magically provided cracking cross-stick action and rim shots. With the snares off, conga effects were easily attainable with hands or mallets, and I had fun producing tabla or ghatam-like sounds with my fingers on the slightly bowed edges. Brushes worked well too, although the 12-inch diameter made me realize how much I rely on rims to keep my sloppy brush technique honest.

Now, just one question: Do I have to return it? I know, I do. But Remo makes Mondo series toms and floor toms (even bass drums, albeit sans the world drum appendages). With a versatile, unconventional army of drums like these, one could-dare I say it-rule the world! Oh yes, the Mondo snare drum is indeed the incredible two-headed transplant.

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