Sorry, jumping on this thread late, and I admit I didn't read it all, but I think one of the key factors in side stepping (as I've always called it) has to do with the intervalic relationships within the phrases you are using. If you play a phrase which clearly outlines some kind of functional harmony, over different chords, if you resolve it strongly it will hold it's own as a pantonal idea. Also worth checking is George Garzone's triadic chromatic concept. There's a nice masterclass of him in Russia where he explains this concept in a simple way. A very down to earth, pragmatic approach to chromaticism.