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I've been trying to transcribe Caravan Palace's "Cotton Heads", and have been failing to find an instrument that has the almost human whistle-like quality in the song.

The instrument appears in the video at around 0:46 but reappears rather consistently throughout the song.

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This is very likely a synthesized sound. It also could be based on one or more samples of a person whistling (or some other foley sample with similar characteristics), pitch shifted and then heavily manipulated with layers of effects to achieve the desired timbre.