On the Periphery covers the entire course of David Sylvian's solo career, knitting together the story of his musical, spiritual, and personal growth from 1982 to 2013. The book covers all Sylvian's solo and collaborative works in this thirty-year period, including detailed analysis of the making of, meaning behind, influences on, and messages contained within:
Solo Works: Brilliant Trees; Alchemy; Gone to Earth; Secrets of the Beehive; Dead Bees on a Cake; Everything & Nothing; Camphor; Blemish; When Loud Weather Buffeted Naoshima; Manafon; Sleepwalkers; Died in the Wool
Group Collaborations: Rain Tree Crow, Nine Horses, The Kilowatt Hour
Individual Collaborations: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Holger Czukay, Sandii & the Sunsetz, Virginia Astley, Mick Karn, Hector Zazou, Russell Mills, Robert Fripp, Nicola Alesini & Pier Luigi Andreoni, Andrea Chimenti, Readymade, Tweaker, Christian Fennesz, Blond Redhead, Takagi Masakatsu, Punkt, Steve Jansen, Joan as Policewoman, Arve Henriksen, Land, Jan Bang & Eric Honoré, and Stephan Mathieu.
The 384-pages hardback book is split into three parts.
Part 1 deals with the period 1982 to 1987. This was a relatively prolific time for Sylvian, and there was some coherence between the main compositions produced, Brilliant Trees, Alchemy, Gone to Earth, and Secrets of the Beehive.
Part 2 deals with the period 1988 – 2002, dominated by a number of joint-venture projects, leading into his next solo work, Dead Bees on a Cake, and culminating in the release of retrospective compilations (Everything and Nothing and Camphor) associated with the split from Virgin.
Part 3 takes us from 2003 to the present day, beginning with Blemish, working through the Nine Horses period, Manafon, Sleepwalkers, Died in the Wool and more recent works with Jan Bang and Stephan Mathieu.
The book interprets Sylvian's music as a reflection of his personal life and spiritual evolution. Chapters and titles for the three parts are:
Part 1: Finding the Right Vocabulary
- Now I Find Myself Alone
- A Better World Lies In Front Of Me
- An Index Of Possibilities
- Those Days Are Gone
- Game Is Lost Again
Part 2: The Path to Redemption
- Pulled By The Undertow
- Moving To The House of Love
- Collapsing Into Joy
- Grace Is An Acquaintance of Mine
- Once the Bullet Leaves
Part 3: The Grey Skies
- Truth Sets In
- Straighten That Tie
- The World Is Everything
- Evening Up The Score
- Songs For The End Of Time
- Shadows Hold Their Breath
- Waiting to See Us Home