In the history of dance music, there have been some pretty killer cover tunes—LCD Soundsystem’s take on Carl Craig’s “Throw” immediately comes to mind—but few performers can make an existing track quite his own like Dutch multi-instrumentalist Binkbeats (aka Frank Wienk). What he does in the studio is nothing short of amazing as he reconstructs jams by Caribou, J Dilla, Flying Lotus, and plenty of others in an on-the-fly, one-man-band style.
Over the last year, the Utrecht-based Wienk has been rolling out a new “Beats Unraveled” video roughly each month that showcases his super-intricate musicianship and style of performance, which involves playing percussion, scratching, looping, singing, playing bass, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.
Madlib and Erykah Badu – “The Healer”
The first track he took on was Madlib and Erykah Badu’s “The Healer,” which he says happened almost by accident. When an MC friend and former bandmate asked Wienk to accompany him at a gig, he began drumming up some ideas for how to make the performance pop. “I wasn’t just going to play vibraphone and marimba, he told Boiler Room TV. “We needed to do, like, four tracks or something. So I thought maybe I’d do something with loops. I changed a couple of songs we had into versions where I’d do everything myself, and we had one track that was a bit Oriental[-sounding]. I already had a bit of the idea for ‘The Healer,’ like, ‘Okay, I have these instruments—I could actually remake that.’ He called his friend Bas Vermolen for some technical advice and once Vermolen saw what he was doing, he took off and came back with a camera and some lights, ready to film.
Flying Lotus – “Getting There”
Soon enough, the pair were producing the videos almost monthly. “I was listening a lot to the Flying Lotus album and I started getting all these ideas, like, ‘I could do this track like this or this,’” said Wienk. For “Getting There,” Binkbeats emulates FlyLo’s signature jazzy, off-kilter blap with an old-school typewriter, a cardboard box kick drum, and all manner of warm-vibes instruments.
“The funny thing is that you could see my project as a sort of protest against laptop artists, which is quite boring to look at.” – Binkbeats, to Beatport
Shlohmo – “Places”
Binkbeats’ take on Shlohmo’s “Places” utilizes analog television static, some brushes on a wood block, a specially made mbira, a ukulele, and Wienk’s own voice to reconstruct the lo-fi R&B-infused track.
Caribou – “Bowls”
For his cover of Caribou’s “Bowls,” Binkbeats stays true to form, clanging on Tibetan singing bowls, shakers, and other percussion instruments.
J Dilla – Live Mixtape
The dearly departed king of the rushed snare, J Dilla, was the honorary subject of Binks’ sixth “Beats Unraveled” installment—a live mixtape of Dilla’s famous instrumental sketches. This one goes everywhere: vocoder, live bass, drums, and more, all incredibly funky and soulful throughout, and replete with a hand-cranked siren.
Aphex Twin – “Windowlicker”
For his most recent clip, which finds him remaking Aphex Twin’s classic “Windowlicker,” he begins by breathing lightly into a mic and looping it while tinkling out the opening riff on a vibraphone and sampling that, too, before both playing and triggering a snappy, 16th-note drum pattern. About a minute in, it all gels together beautifully, dropping in with the same impact that the original has, as Wienk finishes out the flourishes on a couple of Kaoss Pads, some Korg nano controllers, and other assorted boxes.
Check out more of Binkbeats’ ridiculous catalog of covers here.