CEMPAZÚCHITL (Party with the Dead)

A Closer Listen, Top Ten Field Recording & Soundscape, December 17, 2022
"…it becomes clear that this sound collage is more than just a reinterpretation or an archival piece: it seeks to be the party itself."

A Closer Listen, November 1, 2022
Cempazúchitl is fun, exuberant, and like the holiday yet despite its imagery, the exact opposite of morbid: an invitation to eat candy skulls and dance in cemeteries."

Cassette Assembled Scores For Dance: 1991-1993

(Released March 2020)

…” a DIY, tape music patina that has a tight form and rhythm. The jump cuts, worried loops and anxious crescendo of ‘Shattering Light’ are curious, compelling. It is one of my favorite tracks of recent months.”

The Quietus, Rum Music Reviews, 5/26/2020

…”Weis creates a weightless, semi-detached music attempting to reveal the poetic potential of sampled sounds through simple loops and minimalistic arrangements… Thanks to this composing strategy, the music is rather timeless and aged quite well…”

Continuo’s Documents, 4/27/2020

Glass in Your Ear

"...otherworldly...extraordinary compositions... The glass can sound as if it's growling but it can also sound like an interstellar message from extraterrestrials.  It can be staccato and percussive, or almost feral."

Pittsburgh Magazine, 7/15/19

Parrot & Paperback

Happiest Music of the Year

"As far as happy music is concerned, one cannot go wrong with a parrot and a paperback. This simple, gleeful concept is something that no one had thought of before. In subsequent years, we'll hear a glut of parrot and paperback albums, and we'll look back and reminisce about the day when it all began."

A Closer Listen, 12/13/2015

"Few recordings are truly one of a kind… Now joining this elite group is the latest EP from R. Weis, who over the past three decades has lost none of his experimental streak and has shed none of his joy.

"…R. Weis manipulates the sounds of an African Grey Parrot named Congo along with the sound of a dropped book (about the Congo, of course).  While millions of musicians have dreamt of one day composing a parrot and paperback EP, Weis is the only one to ever go through with it.  Why have so many others failed before him?  Perhaps it is the daunting nature of such a project.  First, one needs access to a parrot.  Next, one must make difficult decisions: hardback or paperback?  Floor or table?  Will the dropped paperback upset the parrot?  Should the two be recorded in different rooms?  What if the parrot requests a rider?

"If anyone were to tackle such a project, it was going to be Weis.  After all, he'd already laid the groundwork with the classic "Dog Choir" in 2003.  (What howls!  What harmonies!).  It's a wonder he waited so long to return to this sort of music, although 2011's "Casserole and Singing Bowl" and "Plastic Foil Rubber" came close.  With the percussive "Parrot & Paperback," Weis matches the timbre of artists including Modified Toy Orchestra, Weerthof and Twink, but with a major difference: a parrot is not a toy.

"...And here's the great thing: "Parrot & Paperback" is actually worth the fish… Weis brings the hard beats - yes, one can dance to this and by God we want remixes…

"…we suggest that you buy a copy today.  Otherwise, years from now, you'll be ruing the missed opportunity and having the darndest time recalling the name of that "parrot and paperback" thing you read about once.  What was it called again?  Act now and spare yourself the future pain."

A Closer Listen, 4/1/2015

"The highly manipulated sounds lie somewhere between industrial, noise and Steve Reich-style soundscape composition.  Cool in concept, and generally a fun listen in its execution -- two things that don't always coincide in this field.  Weis is an underappreciated local treasure, known more in the art world than the music scene; he's worth a second look if you're interested in exploring the outer reaches of what we call music."  

Pittsburgh City Paper, 1/28/2015

Excitable Audible

“Where much of what’s called “noise” today serves to obscure notions of music and its palatability to the average ear, Weis’ project is sort of the opposite:  He takes noise samples he’s recorded (“Used Wad of Painter’s Tape Hitting Aluminum Trash Can,” “Two Cardboard Tubes Dropping”) and, by manipulating them, makes something rhythmic and cohesive that is essentially pleasant, if oddball, music.”

Pittsburgh City Paper, 10/19/2011

A World Of Sounds

(excerpts from 10-page feature, translated from Spanish)

“… the music of Robert Weis (USA, 1958)… will wrap you in an invisible shape until you are caught in a cloud of sound.

“Upon first listen, of least importance is the origin of the sounds, because when the music invades you, the conscious mind becomes held in a type of lethargy (almost in a trance) allowing the subconscious mind to dominate.  Then, the body becomes light and everything around you fades and loses presence; you exist alone in the “now,” and in a moment it is “yesterday” and “tomorrow.”  It produces a fusion of dimensions of space, both near and far.

“It produces a strange effect: even with one’s eyes open, it allows us to see within ourselves, diving into the pages of our memories, without nostalgia, and in turn, it makes us enter the moments of life – but without longing for what has been lived.  The present invades us.

“Afterward, when one has finished the first listen, the conscious mind (curious for realism), begins to distinguish rhythmic patterns, formalities, timbres… and the mind discovers familiar elements of a plot that one had first perceived as totally alien from the everyday and known.  In this second phase, intellectual enjoyment allows one to approximate the task of the composer, his work – meticulous and thorough – as a craftsman, because he knows the sounds and tools of his work; as an investigator, because he reveals new timbral possibilities in the sound of elements from the environment and gives them a musical category previously unknown to us; as a communicator, for transmitting and sharing a way of seeing and feeling the world around him; as an artist, because he combines and manipulates the power of sounds to create compositions that are pleasing to the ear.  And, although at first his sonorities seem strange and alien to our reality, in the end we recognize them as part of our world.

“To see reality from another perspective – as Weis does – is a way to discover another side to sounds, to get to know them, the ones that we ignore or, conversely, despise because they annoy us.

“Weis works the raw material of music (sound) in its pure state, without any pejorative valuation beforehand, in a kind of vindication of the artistic possibilities of noise, because acoustic exploration is fundamental to his work.”

Revista Prodiemus (Spain), Special Edition 2011 “Paisajes Sonoros”

Original Spanish feature (pages 27 to 36):


“It seems to us that Victoriana by R. Weis has much in common with Variations for a Door and a Sigh (1963) by Pierre Henry (born 1927).  In the same way Henry affirms that “the door itself can become a musical instrument to be played like any other instrument… it plays arpeggios, scales, tremolos,” Weis composes a work where the old doors of his Victorian house were the “Divas” of his composition stating that “Victoriana is made with four samples of four doors.”  Without a doubt, two unique compositions in their language and timbre, in which the interpreter’s role is diluted and the work itself takes center stage.”

Revista Prodiemus (Spain), Special Edition 2011 “Paisajes Sonoros”

“Upon entering the exhibition, one is aurally lured to the cellar by “Victoriana,” an installation of manipulated found sound by composer R. Weis.  It’s surprising that the melodically pleasing, hour-long composition, which intensifies in speed and complexity, grew out of only 15 seconds of raw sound material (creaking and slamming doors) recorded in the artist’s 19th-century Pittsburgh house.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/10/2009

Dog Choir

"Have Some Style -- Three concertists who do not lack style, one soloist who barks his sonatas.  Better than "Pop Star", Spot, Dot, Bark, Pepper and Puppy today find themselves at the head of a peculiar box office: that of dog songs.  The visit takes place with a musical background, a Dog Choir, created by R. Weis, a poet and composer who specializes in sampling and manipulating sounds."

LeFigaro, Paris, 7/31/2003

"Grand Opening -- The Singing Dogs.  The climax of this homage rendered to the most faithful companion of man is the "Dog Choir" from the artist R. Weis, poet specializing in recording and manipulation of sound.  Three Jack Russell Terriers and a Chihuahua accompany the soloist, a husky puppy named Juba, composing a highly-uplifting musical "collage" which has a place of choice amongst the events of summer."

Paris Capitale Magazine, Paris, summer 2003

"This is probably the most original and amusing exhibit of the summer in Paris.  Be the judge yourself:  Savannah College of Art and Design presents in the very elegant Mona Bismarck Foundation a series of photographs, paintings, installations, jewels, and dresses happily delirious and created especially for this manifestation by American plasticians in honor of dogs.  The apotheosis of this exhibit: a musical choir where the soloists are no less than our four-legged companions!", summer 2003

"The students of SCAD love dogs and prove it in this exhibit which shows a surprising mixture of their creations (dog fashion, furniture for dogs, installations).  Photos from Sandy Skoglund, Tennyson, Wegman (a whole room is dedicated to Wegman) as well as paintings (Nolan, Xie) complete the exhibit, which you visit while listening to a Dog Choir, conceived by R. Weis.  Our appreciation: Three Woof Woofs, obviously."

Le Nouvel Observateur de Paris Ile-de-France, summer 2003

"For viewers who like musical accompaniment when they are looking at art, SCAD commissioned a "Dog Choir" of multi-toned barking, howling and tag-rattling from California-based sound collage artist R. Weis.  The score has a cutting-edge wit that the French like to call 'delirant' which means delirious."

The Campus Chronicle, Savannah College of Art & Design, summer 2003

Mystery Of The Egg

“...Find out how a computer can really be used to make new music on R. Weis’ Mystery of the Egg...”

CMJ New Music Report, 2/27/1995

Requiem For A Paperweight

Requiem For A Paperweight is " rewarding to listen to as to look at...a minor miracle of graphic stage management... Sometimes it's witty, touching and smart... it gets a lot of help from a score by R. Weis... its loopy sounds and snippets of poetry make a binding auditory texture..."

William Wilson, Los Angeles Times, 8/27/1994

a richly textured, haunting vision of life in the future...a dazzling morality play, its hero, the Everyman of late-20th-century corporate life. A stereotypically overworked, anonymous cog in the Japanese business machine, the protagonist exists in a high-tech, migraine-inducing netherworld of garish neon color, charts and lab equipment, glossy ads, and business statistics. Haunted by shadowy memories of family and childhood and elusive promises of health and happiness, he faces a future in which bankruptcy, unemployment, and forced retirement are the preludes to his own cosmic apotheosis in death. His desperate search for meaning is met only with shiny, deceptive dreams.
"Enhanced by the score of composer R. Weis, who works with language and manipulated sound, the installation format works brilliantly for Tress. The dark-painted walls and vivid light reinforce the impression that we are witnessing, as in a medieval chapel, a kind of contemporary morality play.

Peter Clothier, ARTnews, 3/95

Shattering Light

"...drew one in with all the seductiveness of a soothing dream... a vivid sound score by R. Weis…"

Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times, 11/28/1991

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