Right, I'm going to review and compare all 5 of the "from the archives" albums so you can choose which, if any, to buy. I looked at the other reviews before I took the plunge but didn't really find any of them particularly informative.
Just so you have a point of reference, I'm a bit of a music geek and have 250 FSOL/Amorphous Androgynous tracks.
My favourite 5 tracks are "Papau New Guinea", "Cascade", "Lifeforms" (by FSOL) as well as "Fat Cat" and "Mountain Goat" (by Amorph.Androg.).
My favourite FSOL album is Lifeforms (and if you don't own that yet you really should buy it).
If you don't own all of the main FSOL albums yet, buy them before you buy any of these. The Amorphous Androgynous albums are (with the exception of "Tales Of Ephidrena"which is not bad) very different to FSOL stuff and I wouldn't recommend them without previewing them first.
So....."from the archives". You're not going to find any fantastic tracks on any of them, but some tracks are well worth having if you like FSOL. I'm going to give a few track names from each for you to find elsewhere and preview so you have some idea of what's on them.
I'm listing them best to worst and would strongly recommend you preview tracks somewhere else to decide whether they are worth your money. If you love FSOL, maybe try buying them one at a time in the following order, but there are no lost classics on these albums.
From The Archives vol. 5 is probably consistently the best of this lot. I'd give it 4 out of 5. (It's available on the Web, I haven't found a hard copy anywhere).
The best tracks on here in my opinion are "Tif Feetal", "Sendero Luminoso", "Fat Spat" and "Water Hole".
It's a bit more layered and textured than the others and is more cohesive. It has heavier rhythms (think remixes of "We Have Explosives" or "Quagmire") sometimes approaching older Drum & Bass. Overall it sounds like off-cuts from Accelerator, Lifeforms and Dead Cities and it's not bad at all. Worth a fiver at least.
From The Archives vol. 4 is OK with some mellow stuff and some more rhythm-led tracks. The best tracks are "Climbing" (a very short but pretty "Cascade"-like track), "Shingles" and "Mango Tree (Original)". It's probably 2nd or 3rd out of the five.
From The Archives vol. 3 is on a par with vol 4. The best tracks are "La 7" (like a very good bonus track from Lifeforms), "Long Shadow", "Mulleck Well" and "Popadom".
From The Archives vol. 2 and vol. 1 are the worst of the 5 without a doubt. Some of the tracks just sound half-hearted and unfinished. There are a few worth having but not many.
The best of vol. 2 are "Dark Matter", "Wanting" and "Nadir". It's a bit beatier and deeper than vol 1 but there is some rubbish here.
The best of vol. 1 are "Lizzard Crawl" which is very nice mellow, ambient stuff, "Head Hunter" annd "Hazey Day Girl". It's mainly quite mellow.
If you want stuff like FSOL that is polished, layered and textured try Beaumont Hannant's album "Texturology" - it's stunning. Or go and preview some Black Dog, Plaid, Sabres Of Paradise or Autechre rather than spending money on the FSOL "from the archives" albums.
Hope this was helpful...........