Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Mach IV - Three-Sixteen-Oh-Twodotdotdotdot
artworkThe San Francisco Bay Area's first surf supergroup came together late in 2001. The players are (in their own words) Ferenc Dobronyi (18 - leaving the band to go to college next fall - Pollo Del Mar) - guitar, 'Los' Mel Waldorf (16 - the enfant savant of the group - Los Mel-tones, Alvarados) - guitar, Shigemi Komiyama (21 - the experienced professional, buys beer for the rest of us - Shig and Buzz, Shi-tones, Shig 33) - drums, and John Hamilton (18 - thought Bass would be easier than guitar) (Berzerkers) - bass.

On March 16th, 2002, they came into KFJC's infamous Pit to play for an hour and twenty minutes. I had not heard anything from them before they arrived, but trusted to the fine musicians in the group, all of whom I've worked with many times before.

It was a splendid show, full of traditional surf sounds and grins all around. A pure pleasure to mix, and a natural pleasure to hang with. As a super bonus, they played the Surf Coasters' amazing "Dreams!" Ah, lovely surf music!
Picks: Perfidia, Hot Doggin', Mar Cruel, Dance On, Whangaroa, Sunset Beach, Breeze And I, Apache, Quiet Surf, Wonderful Land, Astro Boy, Baja, What's In The Trunk Harry?, Midnight Run, Dreams, Diamond Head, Fogcutter, Guitare Jet, Lullaby Of The Leaves, Casbah, Beyond, Surf Party, New York, Supersonic Twist, Telstar, Yellow Jacket, Our Favorite Martian, Journey To The Stars

Track by Track Review


Perfidia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This tune had made the rounds of the big bands in the forties, then mostly languished in neglect until the Ventures "applied their template" to it. The Mach IV opened the show with a surfy presentation of Alberto Dominguez's "Perfidia." Their arrangement is steeped in the Ventures' tradition, but sports more reverb and dynamic chops.

Hot Doggin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Astronauts' "Hot Doggin'" is one of those enduring surf classics that begs more airing. Los Mel provides plenty of reverb chunk as the lads shoot the curl and cut back just in time. Excellent.

Mar Cruel dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Mike Maxfield's "Cruel Sea" is a perennial fave among surf players. It's infectious rhythm transmuted with added ska chops seems irresistible. Ferenc leads the pack on this traditional arrangement.

Dance On dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a nod to the mother country, the Mach IV do a really solid performance of the Shadows' "Dance On," with reverence to the intent and reverb for the surf set. Maybe the best of the covers of this venerable tune.

Whangaroa dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

'Los' Mel Waldorf's latest composition shows he hasn't lost his touch. Aside from excellent writing, his lead work here is poignant and powerful. "Whangaroa" has a moving melody that's both picturesque and enjoyable.

Sunset Beach dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

There are precious few covers of this most happy and infectious Sentinals instro. With more reverb, the Mach IV borrow from the Surf Piranhas classic ska arrangement, racking up top score for power and fun.

Breeze And I dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ernesto Lacuona's glorious "The Breeze and I" gets the full delicate surf treatment, with damped rhythm and stunning slow delivery. Similar to the Vibrants version, but with a different kind of shimmer and beauty. Very effective!

Apache dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Shadows' arrangement of Jerry Lordan's classic tune, reverent and reverby. Tasteful.

Quiet Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Richard Podolor's "Quiet Surf" is a stunningly beautiful piece of music. The Mach IV do right by it, retaining the spatial and tribal qualities of the original Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers take, while applying their own sound stamp. Simply beautiful.

Wonderful Land dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

I've never really liked this song much, though Shadows aficionados seem to cherish it. Then, the Mach IV brought life to it, and suddenly I "got it." Great performance.

Astro Boy dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Shigemi Komiyama's very well written song sounds better than ever under the axes of the Mach IV. "Astro Boy" is a variation on the "Penetration" riff lies just beneath this melodic surf charmer. It's stylish and energetic, powerful and ringing. Very fine and most fitting a surf set, with glissandoes and that surf rhythm. Sometimes called "E: Astro Boy."

Baja dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

If you boiled the surf genre down to a half dozen songs, "Baja" would be one of them. In his early career, Lee Hazelwood sure knew how to turn a melody line. This is on the gentle side, with the requisite chunky rhythm and precision. Love it.

What's In The Trunk Harry? dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big vibrato chords and deep twang over a slow moody backtrack, with a cautiously optimistic melody driving the woody. "What's In The Trunk Harry?" is a very smooth and catchy Los Mel original, with silky glissandoes and surf chunk.

Midnight Run dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Born of Richard Burns' pen and Richie Podolor's guitar, "Midnight Run" is thee definitive Super Stocks instro. The Mach IV recreate it with their own twist, transforming it into a flowing surf epic.

Dreams dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Knock me out, why don't you! Shigeo Naka's amazing Japanese band the Surf Coasters bowled me over with their original release. I've been waiting patiently for someone to cove it. When the Mach IV did it in soundcheck, I knew this was going to be a magical night. They don't overdrive the punch like the Surf Coasters, but very other twist and turn is there, and the more delicate approach adds a new dimension to this fine instro. Thank you Mach IV!

Diamond Head dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another of those songs that players seem to like a lot, Danny Hamilton's "Diamond Head" shows up a lot in surf sets. Infectious and fun, with solid rhythm and synchronous guitars.

Fogcutter dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ferenc Dobronyi's newest original "Fogcutter" sounds kinda Pollo Del Mar-ish, with sparkling plucked notes and beautiful whammy. Melodic and very smooth, and punctuated with glissandoes and great drums, it captures the imagination and the spirits of the fog bank.

Guitare Jet dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

'Los' Mel Waldorf's prior life in Los Mel-tones met full development in Canada, where he was exposed to vintage Canadian surf/instro music. Les Jaguars were among the best, and still play from time to time. This is one of their songs, taken out of the British mold and moved into the surf idiom for more power and grace. A lovely song played well.

Lullaby Of The Leaves dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

As Ferenc Dobronyi said in introducing "Lullaby Of The Leaves," this probably goes back a long way. Most of us were introduced to it by the Ventures. While this is substantially the V-boys arrangement, it's more vibrant and reverby too. Nice choice.

Casbah dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

I suppose "Casbah" is Richard Podolor's tour de force, his powerhouse signature song. His writing and delivery on Sandy Nelson's single was overwhelming. That's history. The Mach IV employed all the power chunk of the rhythm they could muster, and drummer extraordinaire Shigemi Komiyama rearranged the drum solo to give it a different feel. Very strong.

Beyond dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A lesser instro from the Chantays, "Beyond" has the same basic rhythm as "Pipeline," but a more floating melody line. The Mach IV's cleaner sound ( and the lack of the tape warble of the original) make this much more listenable and interesting. Excellent.

Surf Party dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Born of thrash and surf, the Mach IV focus on the rhythm and fire of this classic soundtrack score originally from the Astronauts. Simply a nice take.

New York dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a solid original from Shigemi Komiyama that he brought from his days with Shig and Buzz, somewhat in the Euro style, but with a foot in the surf. Semi-fast back track, with a sad yet optimistic melody that captures your interest. Very pretty, and well arranged.

Supersonic Twist dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Supersonic Twist" is another tune originally from Les Jaguars. Dribbling double picked notes and long glissandoes launch this riff surfer. It's very fun despite the simplicity of the melody lines.

Telstar dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Joe Meek's ultra classic "Telstar" is played pretty straight, but with a a chop-chord rhythm that accents really well. Very nice reinterpretation.

Yellow Jacket dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Those prolific Ventures gave us many a fine tune, including "Yellow Jacket." The coolest parts of the whole track are bee-sting pick slides. Very cool!

Our Favorite Martian dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very nice cover of Bobby Fuller and the Fanatics' great instrumental "Our Favorite Martian." Very reverent, very smooth, and really good listening.

Journey To The Stars dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This wasn't on the set list, but Ferenc jokingly put out the call for requests. A flood of calls, topped by 4 for "Journey To The Stars" and 3 for "Latin'ia." Solid and reverent, and a good way to end the show.