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Jesse Helms

Voices of the City: Experimental vocalist Carmina Escobar uses her voice to explore herself and others

Voices of the City: Experimental vocalist Carmina Escobar uses her voice to explore herself and others

Cooks in spattered aprons are smoking in the alley as footsteps scrape past, heading down the stairs to a Chinatown basement, where a guy mixes gin and guava near a bullhorn and a blow-up dolphin hanging from a water pipe. Asian music plays, and the dimness has a noir tinge, as if the hatted man in the corner is concealing a small, dark secret.

Carmina Escobar, who can make her voice sound like insects dancing on dry leaves or a rocket ship dying in space, is the night’s headliner, an experimental vocalist and performance artist who long ago fled the strictures of classical music. Before she slips on a bison’s mask and writhes on the floor, she looks around the place, known as...

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