A Romantic Platonic, Bowls’ Latest Work Is An Ode To Friendship

If I had to capture Dhruv Bhola’s entire career into a single word, “understated” would best fit the bill. The prolific New Delhi bassist is most renowned in the scene for his work for critical darlings, “Peter Cat Recording Co”, and for touring with the Indie scene’s foremost global export, Prateek Kuhad. Perhaps unbeknownst to followers of both of the aforementioned artists, Bhola has been quietly making waves as a solo artist under the moniker “bowls”.

His passion for the project came from a pressing innate desire to explore sounds that he otherwise could not in his collaborative efforts. Although he acknowledges that perhaps frontmen do get a fair bit more attention, he doesn’t let that inhibit his work. While he enjoys the incredible highs of touring and jamming with other musicians, he still does relish his time alone – to both unwind and create. bowls’ debut EP, “Shed Winter”, came out last year and signaled to the community the lane on which he was going to build his own sound on. A year on, his follow up singles “Pretend Friends and “Two Feet” seem to be a step forward in a similar direction.

Bhola’s solo work has a certain wistfulness to it. The dreampop characteristics first highlighted in his previous release are only amplified further here to create an indelible sensation of longing. His vocals are far from grandiose, on the contrary they represent the deadpan delivery that has come to define the vast majority of recently successful indie pop artists. Closer to “Parekh & Singh” than any of his associated acts, “bowls” is best at capturing a spacy etherealness through reverbed vocals and a slowly building instrumental orchestra behind them.  The tracks themselves deal with the subtleties that come with the highs and lows of friendships, thereby romanticizing that which is often not given emotional depth in music.

When asked about the future of the industry, Dhruv seems to maintain some hope but recognizes the changes that the pandemic will inevitably enforce. The transition from a physical collaborative space to a digital one may not be ideal, but it is still necessary. Jokingly, he posited that perhaps a new wave of emo music might be inspired in our troubled times. About his own personal musical future however, Bhola feels that he can never clearly predict what sounds or what projects he might go for next. In his own words, ” I do enough random shit, and whatever sounds good to me, makes it in there. “