The background details surrounding Arkhonia's Trails/Traces are perhaps as interesting as the recording itself. The hour-long disc pulls an album's worth of material together from a body of unreleased work produced over the past nine years. The first signs of Arkhonian life emerged when a grey seven-inch vinyl release appeared in 2001 credited to an anonymous duo under the name jz-arkh and featuring two tracks, one of which, “DDRhodes,” surfaces again on Trails/Traces in its original unedited form as the CD's most immediately appealing track (it also shows up on Kompakt's Pop Ambient 2002 compilation and Neil Tennant's mix for the Pet Shop Boys' 2005 Back To Mine comp, and was even used in an advert for the Norwegian Postal Service, of all things). After a second seven-inch followed, no further releases from jz-arkh or Arkhonia appeared—until now.
The album itself is a prolonged exercise in ambient-drone drift, the kind of thing one might expect to hear on a Glacial Movements or Thomas Koner release. The materials used to generate the tracks are unidentified and unidentifiable, though we're told that Arkhonia produced the tracks using limited source materials which were then stretched, reduced, and filtered using the expected computer-based gear (apparently a few Fender Rhodes notes were the seeds from which three tracks grew, and a few picked acoustic guitar chords formed the genesis of “FyldeFF”). Edits and fragments were extracted from hour-long drift studies and then built back up again into the CD's eight settings, all of which appear without interruption, a production choice that strengthens the album's narcoleptic effect.
Softly glimmering tones shimmer and swell alongside monotone swathes of vapour trails during “BCTrails” in an ambient exercise that, stripped of the foggy textures, wouldn't sound out of place on an early Eno ambient release. Those tones gradually fade away almost entirely following the segue from “BCTrails” to “CDTraces” where only the barest residue of said tones remains. The aforementioned “DDRhodes” provides a comparatively luscious mid-point on the album, what with the repetition of its shuddering electric piano motif, arcing string tones, and slow-motion drift, and the track's seaside ambiance and humid character are brought into literal focus when sounds of water lapping ashore and seagulls appear halfway through. Trails/Traces has some aggressive moments: in “FyldeFF,” violent stabs puncture the calm established by a peacefully droning background and gentle starbursts, and “GDLadyburn” perpetuates the album's darker side by transmuting bits of a a live recording of a Liondialer pub gig into a brooding slab of dark ambient that would do Deaf Center proud. The album's uninterrupted presentation lends it the feel of a travelogue that takes listeners on a tour through multiple stark landscapes, some warm, many cold, and all of them barren and depopulated.