John Latham (1921–2006)
Speak (1962)
UK, 1962
Soundtrack: Pink Floyd
10 minutes Colour, 4:3, Opt.
16mm, Digibeta tape, DVD, Film, SD Digital file, SD Video

Is his second attack on the cinema. Not since Len Lye's films in the thirties has England produced such a brilliant example of animated abstraction. SPEAK burns its way directly into the brain. It is one of the few films about which it can truly be said, "it will live in your mind". - Ray Durgnat.


Being obsessed with this recording I did a search of the forum archives and only saw two or three mentions of it. I imagine that lots of fans aren't aware it exists. IMO this is the Floyd holy grail. It also might be the most obscure Pink Floyd recording of all. As far as I know none of the members of the Floyd have even mentioned it in interviews.

A little back-story...John Latham was one of the more controversial conceptual artists in the 1960's (think Yoko Ono, Fluxus). A couple of Latham's films, most notably Speak, were projected behind the Floyd's live set at the International Times launch at the Roundhouse in October '66 and later at a few shows in early 1967. He also had something to do with a 1/67 gig at the Commonworth Institute in London. It was mentoned in a local paper but the description it pretty vague. Anthony Stern thought he did some sort of set design. Back to the soundtrack..

Speak is an 11 minute animated film that was known for it's intense flicker/strobe effect when shown in London area psychedelic clubs. That being the case Latham thought the Floyd would be a good match for its soundtrack.

Near the end of the 10/67 De Lane Lea sessions (which produced Jugband Blues, Remember a Day, Vegetable Man and Beechwoods) the Syd led Floyd set aside some time to take a stab at recording a soundtrack for the film. A recording was completed and submitted to Latham but he rejected it.*

Unfortunately neither the film nor the Floyd's soundtrack have circulated. The soundtrack does survive on a 1/2" 4 track reel and is stored with the rest of Pink Floyd's early recordings at EMI and is logged as "John Latham"**. Norman Smith produced and one M. Cooper was the engineer. Nothing has been done with the reel since 1967.

What is interesting is the band thought enough of the recording to give to Latham. That and ever thing that was recorded at quick De Lane Lea sessions is ****ing great. Someone shoud bring this to Nick's or Paul Loasby's attention. Nick probably forgot all about it.

*Latham ended up using the sounds of a motor driving a circular saw while being used to saw up books for the soundtrack

**see the Random Precision book for more details on the De Lane Lea sessions.. --

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