Nick Chacona: Love in the Middle

Nominally a dance album but in truth something more than that empty label implies, Nick Chacona's debut long-player Love in the Middle situates itself, appropriately enough, midway between the dancefloor and the lounge. How it got there, however, is another thing altogether: though Chacona calls Brooklyn home, the album's ten tracks (eleven counting Beg to Differ's bonus remix of “The Fear”) came into being as a result of time Chacona spent sampling Berlin's club life, soaking up San Francisco sunshine, and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado before returning home to Brooklyn to finish the album. Stylistically, the material ranges widely too, with Chacona's tracks extending beyond a cosmic disco base to reference dub, electro, soul, and trance, and it's a classy and well-crafted album too that's boosted by full-bodied arrangements and a laudable attention to detail.

A bit of a lonesome plains drifter feel shadows the tremolo guitar work that graces the brooding cosmic disco boogie of the opener “Especial,” while “Turning and Tossing” sprinkles jazzy overtones over its cosmic disco. On the vocal front, disco muse Kathy Diamond lends her dulcet tones to the downtempo house swing of “The Fear” and the Brothers Vibe guest on the funky club house stomper “Wait.” Whether it be called trance, house, or cosmic disco, “Proving Ground” flows lusciously, as does “Jambong Express” where Moroder-esque bass arpeggios power jazzy piano musings. Entrancing swirls of synthetic tendrils wrap themselves around the intoxicated listener during the clubby serenade “Be Like Olive,” in contrast to the dubstep bass wobble that lopes through “Eskayelator.” As satisfying a ride as it is, Love in the Middle is a tad long at seventy-four minutes, and a minute or two could be shaved off a few of the longer cuts without doing significant harm. Even so, Chacona's breezy blend of house and soul swings ever-so-smoothly, especially when it's sweetened, as it so often is, with chunky bass lines and gleaming synth melodies. Mood music, indeed.

February 2010