The Keep Score by Tangerine Dream
Strange Obsessions for the Music from an Obscure 1983 Supernatural Horror Film
Written by Kit Rae (and friends) in 2005. Last update November 2014. Dedicated to Edgar Froese (1944-2015)
The original soundtrack to the 1983 surreal, supernatural horror film The Keep, directed by Michael Mann, is the Holy Grail of unreleased Tangerine Dream film scores. TD is a group of German musical composers, one of the founding pioneers of electronic music since the days of its infancy in the late 1960s. They carved a unique musical category all their own with a series of studio and live concert albums throughout the 1970s, then moved into film soundtrack work in the late 1970s and 1980s, which gave them a much wider fan base worldwide. The Keep is on the dark side of TD's work, composed mostly of brooding and moody atmospheric music and haunting melodies. Much of it is just plain creepy and otherworldly. No official soundtrack of the music material used in the film has ever been released. Like the 1982 Blade Runner score by Vangelis, the film music used in The Keep has long eluded fans. Tangerine Dream did release something called an "official soundtrack" in 1997 that contained practically none of the music heard in the film, but there are numerous bootlegs that do contain the actual film music, the best being the 2013 Restoration Project version, The Keep Original Soundtrack, the Complete Recordings - 30th Anniversary Edition and the Tangerine Tree bootleg The Keep: An Alternative View.
Film director and producer Michael Mann, the 1981 Soundtrack to Thief, and Tangerine Dream members (L to R) Johannes Schmoelling, Chris Franke, and Edgar Froese.
As a kid, seeing Michael Mann's film Thief got me interested in the music of Tangerine Dream, leading to my acquisition of the soundtrack album, their fantastic Force Majeure album (just to get the composition used in the film called Thru Metamorphic Rocks) and their earlier soundtrack to William Friedkin's film Sorcerer. After seeing Mann's follow up, The Keep, I was hopelessly hooked on their music, paying exorbitant sums of money to import LPs of all of their studio and live albums. I have since been in a constant search to find all of the music used in this film (this ended in 2013 with the Restoration Project bootleg). Other films they scored in this period were Flashpoint, Firestarter, Wavelength, Risky Business, Legend (the American version of the Ridley Scott film), Heartbreakers, Near Dark, and Miracle Mile. Their music was almost the soundtrack to my childhood. I often listened to it while drawing or painting, reading novels, or reading Heavy Metal, an illustrated magazine of adult science fiction, horror, and fantastic stories that was popular in the 1980's (and is still being published today). The Keep could have come right out of the pages of Heavy Metal, or its French progenitor, Métal Hurlant. Heavy Metal artist Enki Bilal even helped design the golem-like villain of the film.
It may have seemed like an odd choice to use a German band known for their electronic music to score a WWII period gothic horror film about Nazis awakening an ancient evil in Romania, but the same could also be said of the choice to use Tangerine Dream to score Mann's previous Chicago crime drama, 1981's Thief, but it worked brilliantly there. After Edgar Froese's death in 2015, Michael Mann wrote down his thoughs about about the experience of working with the band on that soundtrack.
Mann's positive experience led him to work with the band again for The Keep. Amazingly, the music Tangerine Dream composed for that film, with a few exceptions, does not sound dated today. Many of TD's 1980s soundtracks sound firmly entrenched in the period, but most of the music in The Keep would be perfectly at home in a modern film. The Night in Romania music, Logos music used in the scene where the German soldiers remove the silver cross and awaken the evil, and perhaps the end credits music, each have elements that date them to the early 1980s, but otherwise the rest of the score has held up well.
Tangerine Dream members in 1983 (L to R):
The Tangerine Dream members at this time were Edgar Froese (1944-2015), Christopher Franke, and Johannes Schmoelling. They had a busy year in 1982 recording the studio album White Eagle in January, touring in support of the album in February-March through Australia, recording the Daydream/Moorland music for long running German TV series Tatort (Crime Scene) for the April episode Miriam, and Edgar recording his solo soundtrack to the film Kamikaze 1989 in May-June. According to the Production handbook for The Keep, the filming schedule was such that TD had to start composing music before filming actually began (in September) and before there was a finished script. As films are shot and edited into a rough cut, many directors add a temporary score using existing music until the composers have completed their film score. Mann did that both before and during the filming as a rough cut was being assembled, but took it a step further as he already had in mind to use several existing TD compositions, as well as the music of other composers. This was Mann's standard procedure, as he stated in 1983.
After initial discussion with Mann about the film score in September 1982, Tangerine Dream then toured Europe in October and November, playing several new compositions that would end up being used in the The Keep. They released some of the music recorded for their London concert on the album Logos Live, just a few weeks after the tour ended, and in December they visited The Keep set at Pinwood Studios. When Michael Mann heard Logos Live he decided to use several sections of that music in The Keep. Principal photography for the film was completed the day before Christmas. The day after Christmas Mann watched the animated version of the children's book The Snowman when it premiered on UK television. The film featured a song called Walking in the Air by Howard Blake. Mann was so impressed with the music, thinking it embodied a theme of innocence that was the perfect fit for his adult fairy tale, he immediately asked his music editors to track down the composer. As it turns out one of his music editors, Bob Badami, had worked with Blake previously.
Blake was contacted about recording a version of it for Mann's film (or, according to Blake, he was asked to work with TD on a new version). He was busy scoring another film for Paramount at the time, so Mann asked of him permission for TD to create their own synthesizer version to play over the ending of The Keep. Blake granted permission, although reportedly the actual legal permissions to do this that came about later were more complicated.
An approximately two hour long rough cut of the film was assembled and the final score composition and recording took place in TD's Berlin studios during the film's post production period in February 1983. Working closely with Mann as they had done on Thief, TD composed and recorded a large amount of music for the film, including multiple versions of the Thomas Tallis Gloria (Puer Natus Est Nobis) music. Actor Scott Glenn's voice was used with a vocoder on several of the tracks. Since the final cut was not yet complete TD also composed several alternate pieces of music for the film. There were mutilple ideas for the ending, and Mann was not sure how he wanted TD to interpret Blake's Walking in the Air music, so several different versions of that were also recorded. A long version that ran over seven minutes was eventually chosen to play over the original ending of the film. Around the time TD finished their work, special effects technician Wally Veevers died in the middle of special and optical effects work on the finale, causing a six month delay in post production. By the time the music was edited into the finished film in late 1983, it had been shortened and a significant portion of what TD had composed was not used. Some of this music, in modified form, may be heard on the 1997 official soundtrack release from TDI.
That TDI release contained mostly unused music, but some of that music sounds like it may have actually been composed much later and had nothing at all to do with The Keep. There is the possibility that some of it was intended to be in the the original two hour cut of the film, but got cut when Paramount wanted the film shortened. There could also be other reasons why Mann chose not to use this music. It may simply have been too different from what he envisioned and what the visual style of the film dictated. Had the original music heard on the TDI album been used, the film would have come across as very different and much less dreamlike I think. Much of the final score, and probably also some of the temp score, came from TD's vast catalog of existing work. Mann constantly listened to their music before and during filming, as well as the music of performance artist Laurie Anderson. Anderson was also called in to help mix the music score for The Keep at the last minute - uncredited (Actor Scott Glenn's odd speaking style in the film was also based on Anderson's spoken word performance style). From Tangerine Dream's existing music catalogue, here are the sources Michael Mann used in The Keep:
Note that the film versions were remixed and edited differently than the original album tracks by the film music editors Bob Badami and Gordon Greenway, with additional score mixing by Laurie Anderson in late 1983. There was also nearly thirty minutes of additional original TD music used in the film and the two film trailers that has never appeared on any official release before or after the films release. Some of that music did make its way to the public on German radio and a leaked tape of the recording sessions, featured on the First Mix and Blue Moon bootlegs, then later released in a better form on the semi-authorized The Keep: An Alternative View, from the Tangerine Tree fan bootleg series. Various instrument sounds and bits of music heard in the film also appeared in later TD works such as the live Poland concert in 1983 - specifically the tracks Rare Bird (at the 2:06 minute mark) and Poland (at the 22:00 minute mark), and the 1984 Firestarter soundtrack - specifically the track Between Realities, heard when Glaeken activates his staff inside the keep and charges it with the energy of the crosses.
The three fan favorite tracks in the film are actually TD's arrangements of music written by other composers - Brian Eno/David Byrne, Thomas Tallis, and Howard Blake. These tracks are, respectively, the opening credit music (Mea Culpa), the choral music used when Molasar first appears in smoky-spirit form (Gloria), the closing credits music (Walking in the Air). The latter two were specifically requested by Michael Mann.
The band members have not had much to say about composing the music for the film in interviews during or since it was released. Edgar Froese talked about the film and played a few of the unused film tracks on German radio in 1987 and 1989. Chris Franke discussed film soundtracks and The Keep briefly in a 2006 interview by John Diliberto in Totally Wired magazine.
THE OFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK (OST) - No OST of the film music was released at the time of the film's release or since. There have been several bootleg soundtracks of The Keep circulating throughout the years that have included some of the actual film music, but no official film soundtrack recording of material exclusively from or used in the film has ever been released. However, some of The Keep bootlegs are very good, and do contain unreleased material that seems to come from the original music scoring sessions, and remixed/edited versions of music culled from the VHS or Laser Disk soundtracks. The 2013 Restoration Project release is by far the most complete and best quality version of the soundtrack, running at nearly 2 hours, and includes every major music cue heard in the film, and more. The Keep: An Alternative View from the Tangerine Tree bootleg series is the second best bootleg, although incomplete.
TD did eventually release an OST of The Keep in a limited run on their own TDI label in 1997, but unfortunately this consisted almost entirely of the material (supposedly) originally composed for the film, but not used, and new material unrelated to The Keep. While it is very good music, it is simply not the music from the film, and comes nowhere near close to capturing the mood and feel of The Keep. Approximately six minutes of that material did appear in the film, but half of those six minutes of music was reworked in a different form for this release.
THE MYTHICAL AND LEGENDARY LOST 1984 OFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK - There is a legend of a vinyl LP and cassette tape official soundtrack (OST) of the The Keep music that was in stores briefly in 1984, then immediately recalled and pulled from shelves. I remember seeing the OST album myself in mid 1984 while on school break. I believe it was in a Sam Goody store (a large music and entertainment retailer in the United States and United Kingdom). It had the same art on the front as the American movie poster and Laser Disk packaging, and I specifically remember some of the track titles (there were only 10 or 12), some of which later appeared on the eventual official TDI release in 1997. I rarely bought an album the first time I saw it, but I did look for this one in record stores about week later to purchase. It was nowhere to be found. Other prople have similar memories, and it is assumed what most people actually remember was the Laser Disk version of the film. Laser Disks were packaged in sleeves identical in size to vinyl LP records and were easy to confuse with them until you looked close. Often music/video stores sold both LD’s and LP’s in the same style racks, so to the novice the LD section could look like a vinyl LP record section.
I most certainly was not one of those that confused it with the Laser Disk of The Keep, as that did not have Tangerine Dream's name on the front, and the LD was not even released until December 1984. I was also very familiar with the small number of films released on LD in 1984, as I was the first one of my group of friends to have a Laser Disk player at home. I remember friends on more than one occasion pointing out the LD excitedly to me in music/video stores, thinking it was a vinyl LP (we looked for the soundtrack LP every time we went in a music/video store). I would then sadly point out that no, it was actually just the Laser Disk. I never bought that version of the film, as I was waiting for the widescreen version, eventualy released on Laser Disk in 1995.
I am not the only person to remember seeing the LP soundtrack. The Keep author himself, F. Paul Wilson, also stated on his website in 2004 that he saw a copy of the LP soundtrack in a Sam Goody store (not the same one I saw it in) shortly after the film's release, but did not buy it because he was still pissed off about the film. Wilson's spotting of the soundtrack would have been in the Toms River or Eatontown Sam Goody locations in New Jersey. Steven Feldman relates his own account of seeing the soundtrack on his Molasar's Homepage, a website dedicated to finding an original copy of that soundtrack, with information about the film, rare magazine interviews, and information about F. Paul Wilson's Secret History of the World novels, which include The Keep, the first book in his Adversary Cycle.
"I do not have it (the LP release). I saw it in Sam Goody shortly after the release of the film but I didn't buy it -- too pissed." - Author F. Paul Wilson in 2004
Virgin Records listed the soundtrack in a 1984 catalogue, but they said it was never officially released, and Tangerine Dream has denied there ever was a real release. One internet source states that Virgin did make a small production run, and around 100 copies (another source states 250, and yet another 300) did get distributed to stores before the licensing issues cropped up causing a recall and cancellation of any future production. There are also accounts of unmarked test pressings that have circulated. It is also possible that what we all saw was a vinyl bootleg album, but it seems unlikely that a bootleg could have been created less than a year after the film was released. The VHS and Laser Disk version had not yet even been released, so there was nothing available at the time to use as the source to make such a bootleg, other than Logos Live, or a copy of the actual film reels to rip some of the soundtrack music from. Also, legitimate retailers, especially large outfits like Sam Goodys, did not sell bootlegs.
It is almost an urban legend now, but no matter how short lived and how small the actual run of this soundtrack was, it is odd that not one verifiable copy has surfaced in the past 30 years. Apparently we were all victims of a mass hallucination! In 2001 a track surfaced that may be from the original LP, although this was not discovered until 2013, as told in this entry.
(above left) The supposed album cover art for the original 1984 release of The Keep, sent to me in 2005 by a person who tried to buy this LP record on ebay. It looks similar to what I remember seeing in mid 1984, although without seeing the back cover there is no way to verify if this was legitimate or just another bootleg.
TD was well known for re-recording their film music for their OST releases rather than using the music recorded for the films. The purpose for doing this was to make the compositions and pacing flow better as a collection of music, to work within the LP/Cassette Tape/CD format time constraints, and to make the sound mix work better for standard sound systems, which are different than theater sound systems. This is understandable as the film music sometimes does not work as stand alone music without the visual element, but as was often the case, those re-recorded and remixed tracks were substantially different from the film versions, to the frustration of fans. In cases where material from their live concerts or studio albums was used in films, the resulting soundtracks rarely included that material, and if they did, it was re-recorded in a substantially different form and with different sounding instrumentation (example - the re-recorded version of Thru Metamorphic Rocks on the Thief soundtrack). As is often the case, fan favorite pieces of music from the films sometimes do not appear on these soundtracks at all (example - the beautiful opening track from the film Legend), or appear in a re-recorded form (example - almost everything on the Thief soundtrack). Sometimes these omissions and alterations are baffling and frustrate fans.
When TD released an official soundtrack of music composed for a film they often included music created for the film, but not used. That appears to be exactly the case with the eventual 1997 OST released by TDI , which only included a few minutes of music from the film. According to the liner notes - this is the only authorized soundtrack of the complete music material originally composed for the movie which was recorded in February 1983. Some of that music is likely what would have been on the planned Virgin Records OST in 1984. For that reason, if the Virgin OST had been released, it would have probably been one of the most disappointing and frustrating Tangerine Dream soundtracks of all time! So why was most of the film music missing, and what would and would not have been included on that 35-45 minute long original OST? Here is our speculation.
As noted, Edgar Froese played some of the unreleased material from the 1984 The Keep OST on 1987 and 1989 German public radio broadcasts. I'm sure he was well aware by that time which sections of music from The Keep were fan favorites, but he did not play any of that music, other than Gloria. This is another bit of evidence to us that those fan favorite tracks were never part of the unreleased OST. TD composed and recorded most of the film score and the OST when the film was in post production in February 1983, when the film was far from being complete. Wally Veevers died February 19th, causing a six month delay in completing the film. The final sound mix and music editing of the film soundtrack was delayed until around July-August. TD had long moved on by this time, with Edgar recording his solo album Pinnacles in May, TD touring in June and spending the remainder of 1983 composing the soundtracks for Risky Business and Wavelength, composing and recording the album Hyperboria (recorded in August/released November), and touring in August and November, among other projects that year. They likely were unaware that most of the music they composed for The Keep was not used until they saw the finished film - If they even saw the finished film at the time. Read on.
The Keep had no theatrical release at all in West Germany, where the TD members live and recorded, and was not released on video there until May of 1985. It only had a small release in the US, to mostly negative reviews, and did not make its money back. The release in the rest of the world was spread across 1984, with very little promotion. TD member Johannes Schmoelling was not even aware the film actually got a release! In an interview several years after the film he was asked asked why no soundtrack was ever released and stated "As far as I know The Keep was never released in the cinemas, so there was no demand for us to release a soundtrack." In 1983 Edgar Froese had stated that they were tired and annoyed with the whole film business, and their relationship was ending with Virgin records after the release of Hyperboria. I'm sure the film's failure, the fact that a large portion of the music TD composed for it was scrapped, and the limited theatrical release contributed to the band not having much interest in releasing an OST, but there were also other reasons there was no OST.
According to TD's own website, "An official soundtrack has never been released due to disagreements between the film’s producer and Virgin Records". Virgin may have had rights to release an official soundtrack in 1984, but much of the actual music in the film was taken from previous TD albums already released on Virgin. Since some of the music TD actually composed for the film was not used, and that is what TD's OST tapes likely contained, this may have contributed to the licensing issues. Every previously known track on the 1997 official soundtrack released by TDI had been re-recorded or altered, presumably to get around the licensing and copyright issues. The exact nature of the 'disagreements' has not been revealed publicly. Ownership rights are complicated and the companies are changing hands or merging every few years. As of 2007 Sony/ATV Music Publishing owned the rights to publish soundtrack music from Viacom's Paramount Pictures subsidiary, including The Keep. As of 2012 BMG Rights Management owned Virgin Music, who owned the phono record rights to The Keep soundtrack, then Virgin merged with EMI to became Virgin EMI Records (now owned by Universal Music) in 2013. Virgin was listed on the 1997 TDI official The Keep soundtrack CD case, which contained mostly original unused music, and Sony/ATV was listed on The Keep Cues limited edition CD case, which contained soundtrack music and sound effects copied directly from the film.
THE MUSIC BOOTLEGS - WHICH ARE THE BEST? - An official release of any actual soundtrack music from a thirty+ year old movie seems completely improbable at this point, so we are left with the bootlegs. Most people interested in this music have already paid for the official releases that contain pieces of it, but the rest of the music is only available in bootleg form. For the record, I am completely against bootlegging or counterfeiting an official release. That is no different than stealing another person's property, but that is not the case here since there has never been an official release of the actual film music, and there appears to be no intention to do so in the future. I have no problem if fans put together and share the music amongst themselves as long as no one is trying to make money from it. With modern file sharing, there is no reason to have to pay a bootlegger selling copies illegally.
If you just want the actual music heard in the film, the 2013 The Keep Original Soundtrack, the Complete Recordings - 30th Anniversary Edition (Restoration Project) is by far the most complete version, includes every music cue heard in the film, and is probably far better and longer than what any official release of the film music would have included. It is on par with the quality of the Blade Runner Esper Edition bootleg and the stellar Blade Runner EMS Recombination bootlegs. The Keep: An Alternative View (from the semi authorized Tangerine Tree series) is also another good compilation of just the film music, but is incomplete. If you are looking for all of the related music, The Keep Ultimate Edition ( Buster Cat Productions) bootleg is probably the most complete compilation, although very repetitive. It includes some music from the film (not all), alternate versions, and music created for the film but not used. Note that it also includes music from Tangerine Dreams official releases.
THE KEEP BOOTLEG HISTORY - The first unauthorized soundtrack of Tangerine Dream's music for The Keep appeared in 1992, the First Mix bootleg. The first one I found was in 1994, and eventually I wound up finding seven or eight different bootlegs (there are over twenty different bootlegs now) of The Keep music, and borrowing or finding the others through online file sharing. Many of the tracks on the various bootlegs were simply repeats of the same tracks from earlier bootlegs, often with confusingly different names and running times. In an effort to sort and compile all the unique tracks onto a few CD's, I started making a list of them in 1999. It was a simple cross reference of which were original tracks, which were simply repeated tracks, which were not from the film at all, and the original sources. After several years, and several more bootlegs, it got to be quite long, if not a bit obsessive, but some may find it useful. I later found two websites doing the exact same thing as I was doing, one with better track comparisons than what I have (links to follow). The pages that follow are my track comparisons and notes of the different bootlegs and official releases to help in finding the best available tracks used in The Keep, and my pick of the absolute best bootleg at the top of the list (the 2013 Restoration Project release).
It is rumored that s ome of the early bootlegs were originally sold as LP's, but most were in CD format, all of which are very difficult to find now, but you should never pay for those anyway. All have been seeded on the World Wide Web using BitTorrent file sharing (as of 2013 it appears only the Ultimate Edition and The Keep: An Alternative View are still being seeded). Most of the better ones are available on youtube so that is the best place to find some of this music, although youtube audio is not ideal. The official Tangerine Dream releases that contain a few minutes of this music were also still in production at the time I last updated this page. I strongly urge you to support the band and purchase the official releases that contain some of this music, Rubycon and Logos Live, both of which were still available at the time this article was written.
NEVER pay for bootlegs. They should only be shared freely among fans.
THE BOOTLEG LIST
2013 – THE KEEP ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK - THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS / 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION - from Restoration Project (two CD's) bootleg - Youtube of CD 1 ••••• Youtube of CD 2 (change the video quality to 720p - the gear icon in the lower right of the youtube window - for best audio quality)
Egar Froese (1944-2015)
LINKS TO OTHER TANGERINE DREAM and THE KEEP RESOURCES
•http://www.tangerinedream.org/ - the official website of Tangerine Dream
•If you are a fan of Tangerine Dream's score for Ridley Scott's American version of his film Legend, there is a page about the different versions of that soundtrack here
The Keep film photos by Graham Attwood, copyright Paramount Pictures. Film screen grabs copyright Paramount Pictures. Other photos copyright the respective copyright holders.
CONTRIBUTORS - I wrote this article with LOTS of help and contributions from friends and fellow TD fans, and fans of The Keep. Thanks go to Jim, Ed, Jerome, Arxemand, Geoff, and Steven. If you would like to contribute any additional info, photos, or know of any other bootlegs or other sources of this music, feel free to email.