R. Weis began his creative career in 1982 after moving from Pittsburgh, PA to New York City (NYC). His earliest expressions took the form of poetry and monologues that were heard at venues such as The Poetry Project, La MaMa, and on WBAI FM Pacifica Radio. At that time, Weis also began experiments manipulating pre-recorded sounds on cassette tape and began assembling sound collages to be presented with his creative writing. Eventually, his focus shifted away from writing and moved enthusiastically toward the idea of composing with manipulated sound. He began working on a sampler in 1990 and embraced the discipline of composing exclusively with samples of original sounds.
A series of collaborations began and resulted in sound scores for film, visual art, and dance. These collaborations were presented at many of NYC's downtown venues of that era, including Performance Space 122, Danspace Project, and the gallery Art et Industrie. His CD Mystery of the Egg was completed in 1994 and continues to be heard on experimental radio programs in the U.S. and Europe. That same year he collaborated with photographer Arthur Tress and composed the sound score for the museum installation Requiem for a Paperweight. Requiem was originally presented at University Art Museum, California State University Long Beach. It has since traveled to The Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery in NYC, to German museums including The Ludwig Forum Stadt Aachen, and in slide-show form at the 1994 CMJ Music Marathon in NYC. The sound score for Requiem was also heard as part of Arthur Tress' 2001 retrospective Fantastic Voyage, Photographs 1956-2000 at The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
After 16 years in NYC's East Village, Weis moved to the California desert. For three years, he worked on a composition called noitatu MovE oveR which is a meditation on repeating patterns in the Universe. The 29-minute composition is organized like the DNA double helix and is made from only 6 original samples: 4 to represent the 4 base components of DNA; 1 to represent whole numbers; and 1 to represent prime numbers. After such a long immersion in this cosmic project, Weis was delighted to accept an invitation from The Savannah College of Art & Design to compose the light-hearted Dog Choir for the exhibition Pour l'Amour des Chiens at the Mona Bismarck Foundation, Paris, 2003.
He returned to Pittsburgh in 2006. In 2008 he completed Victoriana, a 1-hour composition based on sounds made by his former 19th century house. Victoriana premiered in the 2009 Gestures 12 exhibition at Pittsburgh's Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2010, Victoriana was presented at Pittsburgh Technology Council's DATA Event where it won the Gateway to the Arts Award.
In 2011, Weis released Excitable Audible, a CD of 14 songs of manipulated sound created from samples of commonplace, everyday sounds including trash hitting the trash can, plastic lids spinning, kitchen dishes rattling, and the dog's ball bouncing, among others. All 14 songs from Excitable Audible have been broadcast on multiple US radio stations and tracks were heard on London's Resonance FM.
In 2015, Weis released Parrot & Paperback, a four-part composition created from samples of sounds made by Congo, an African Grey Parrot, paired with the sound of a paperback book (about the Congo jungle) dropping on the floor. Parrot & Paperback has been heard on many US radio stations including WFMU (named the New Release of the Day), WPKN (named a Favorite of the Week, Top 10 list for 2015), KAOS, KUNM, KBOO, WMUA, WZBC, as well as on London's Resonance FM. It was also on A Closer Listen's list of Top 10 "Happiest Music of 2015."
“Glass in Your Ear” (2019) was made entirely from sounds of glass scraps Weis picked out of the dirt around his house along with sounds of a glass bell. Within 2 weeks of its release, all 6 of the EP's tracks were broadcast on multiple radio stations including WPKN (which named the track “Vessel” a “Favorite Track of the Week”), WFMU (6 different DJs broadcast tracks on their shows), and the long-running program “Martian Gardens” on Taint Radio.
In March 2020, the UK-based Bandcamp Label TQN-aut released “Cassette Assembled Scores for Dance: 1991-1993” featuring 3 of the sound scores Weis composed for choreographer Jaime Ortega.
Tracks were heard on US radio including the long running shows “Radio Nothing” on WPKN and “Martian Gardens” on Taint Radio. “Radio Nothing” broadcast “Firewalk” twice in the same week and then WPKN named it a “Favorite Track of the Week.” In the UK, tracks were on A Ship Full of Bomb’s show “Culture as a Dare,” Radio Free Midwich, Anticipating Nowhere, and on BBC Radio 3’s music program “Late Junction.” It was included in The Wire magazine's list "15 Albums That Made Me Blink, Mutter Wildly and Go Weak at the Knees in 2020." (Due to the closure of TQN-aut, this CD temporarily unavailable.)
Interest in Weis’ early work continues. His 1990 collaboration with visual artist Paul LeRoy Gehres “Spiral Entrance” was presented for the first time in 30 years in the “Culture as a Dare” YouTube Festival, July 2020.
Mystery of the Egg, Excitable Audible, and Parrot & Paperback are all available from CDBaby and its Digital Distribution Partners including Apple Music.