Singled Out: O.R.k. (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, Marta Sui Tubi)
There is some disagreement among us as to wether "Pyre" is an optimistic song or not. The main character in the song and the video is a man without a face and playing an old, ruined guitar, just the body and the instrument. He's an archetypal everyman, a nobody but someone we can all imagine, perhaps a busker, who is also an observer and social commentator and aside from the crowd.
The scene is very dark, dusty air. Underneath his paper bag with smiling mouth and eyes painted on, but do we know how he really feels? The main guitar figure has a flavour of Morricone's old Western soundtracks, so in the video we see the action play out in an old Wild West type American town.The people surrounding our main man, they're also wearing a paper bags although unlike him, they wear unhappy depressed expressions.
They start to chase him unrelentingly "chase tight as if I'm gold" as they can't stand his shining smile. Imprisonment, physical pain and public disapproval don't stop him smiling. The people, with faces twisted in rage, cart him away to a dark square with a pyre burning at its centre. "They usher me off to the place of my end, though still can't help laughing through the crowd".
They push him toward the pyre, still smiling, he starts walking into the fire. Among the assembled people someone starts smiling because of the presumed man's death. So it starts a massacre between those with the angry look and those who start smiling in a weird manner. The night falls. They're all dead, the smoke has almost completely dispersed.
We see the pyre surrounded by hundreds of ember-looking-alike corpses. The man is sitting on a ash heap, playing his guitar and singing "night buries shame in the corner where liars kneel and pray until there's nothing more to hide".
There are few interpretations of the song, most obviously our brave hero stuck to his smile, beat the odds and won out in the end, while those in the crowd all died, but we'd like to also entertain the idea that he might have been a dangerous and provocative figure, creating dischord/division and bringing out the worst in people.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!