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 at St. Mark's Church, La MaMa, and on WBAI FM Pacifica Radio. At that time, Weis also began experiments manipulating pre-recorded sounds on cassette tape that he then assembled into sound collages to accompany presentations of 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 original samples.
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, The 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 music 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 the structures of 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, an hour-long composition created from sounds made by 4 doors in his 19th century house. Victoriana premiered in the 2009 Gestures 12 exhibition at Pittsburgh's Mattress Factory Art Museum. In 2010, Victoriana was presented at Pittsburgh Technology Council's Design, Art and Technology Awards event where it won the Gateway to the Arts Award.
In 2011, Weis released Excitable Audible, a CD of 14 songs 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 Track 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 year-end list of Top 10 "Happiest Music of 2015."
The EP Glass in Your Ear 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 tracks were broadcast on multiple radio stations including WPKN (which named 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 choreography by Jaime Ortega presented at various venues in NYC during the early 1990s. 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 Radio3’s experimental music program “Late Junction.” (Due to the closure of TQN-aut, this CD is temporarily unavailable.)
Interest in Weis’ early work continued. His 1990 collaboration with visual artist Paul LeRoy Genres Spiral Entrance was presented for the first time in 30 years in the “Culture as a Dare” YouTube Festival, July 2020.
In February 2022, excerpts from all the compositions Weis created for gallery and museum exhibitions were released as Installed: Sounds for Exhibitions on the Wormhole World Bandcamp label.
In 2021, Weis traveled to Oaxaca de Juárez, México to experience Día de los Muertos. While there, he recorded sounds he heard during the celebrations. He then pulled samples from those recordings to make a composition. On October 1, 2022, he released the 17-minute composition CEMPAZÚCHITL (Party with the Dead) which A Closer Listen called in its review "fun, exuberant." It was included on their year-end Top Ten list Best Field Recording & Soundscape for 2022. It was also on WFMU's December 2022 list of music with heavy airplay on the station.
After nearly 30 years, Weis released songs he created in the mid-90s when the AIDS epidemic in NYC was hitting his circle of friends. The 7 tracks on The Reaper & Me are newly mastered and were released in 2024.
Mystery of the Egg, Excitable Audible, Parrot & Paperback, Glass in Your Ear, CEMPAZÚCHITL (Party with the Dead), Cassette Assembled Scores for Dance: 1991-1993, Installed: Sound for Exhibitions, and The Reaper & Me are all available from CDBaby and its Digital Distribution Partners including Apple Music.